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Nicotine Patches And Gum Programme Broadened

Subsidised Nicotine Patches And Gum Programme To Be Broadened

Approved smoking cessation providers will soon be able to offer their clients subsidised nicotine patches and gum, the Ministry of Health said today.

"Subsidised nicotine patches and gum have been available through the Quitline for a month, and the demand has been overwhelming, Public Health Programmes Team leader, Matthew Allen said today.

"Stage two of the programme involves enabling smoking cessation providers to distribute nicotine patches and gum exchange cards as part of their service. Cessation providers will have to meet certain criteria for example, they must have expertise in providing smoking cessation support and advice, and be prepared to offer follow-up support and advice," Mr Allen said.

The patches and gum will be available from some approved cessation providers by mid-December.

"A rolling registration system will be in place. Cessation providers will be asked whether they would like to take part in the programme, assessed for suitability, and sent exchange cards where appropriate, " Mr Allen said.

"We anticipate that there will be a lot of interest in stage two, and this means that some approved cessation providers will not be in a position to distribute patches and gum until the New Year. Smokers are advised to check whether their health professional is able to offer the patches and gum before visiting them for nicotine replacement therapy."

Mr Allen said that he appreciated that it was frustrating for smokers who were experiencing delays when trying to call the Quitline, and urged them to be patient.

Quitline is working through the calls as quickly as possible and expects all backlog to be cleared by January. In the meantime, smokers are being sent a Quitpack and are to urged to prepare to quit while waiting for patches and gum. They can do this by keeping a diary of when and why they smoke and alternatives to smoking, identifying situations that trigger wanting to smoke, finding a quit partner, and telling friends and family that they are preparing to quit.

"As far as we are aware, distribution of subsidised nicotine patches and gum has not taken place on this scale anywhere in the world. The Quitline was expanded to cope with the expected demand however no one could have predicted just how many New Zealanders were motivated to quit smoking. Quitline received around 35,000 calls in the first three weeks of the patches and gum programme being in place compared to around 50,000 in the previous 12 months. This is very encouraging and shows that the various quit programmes in place have the potential to make real inroads into smoking rates."

For further information please contact: Annie Coughlan, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2067 Internet address:

Annie Coughlan Media Advisor Communications Communications DDI: 496 2182 Fax: 496 2010 Ministry of Health

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