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Easier Access To Nicotine Replacement Therapies

Health Minister Annette King announced today the Government was making it easier for smokers to gain access to nicotine replacement therapies.

Mrs King said NRTs would soon be able to be sold through smoking cessation clinics run by medical practitioners, nurses, pharmacists or psychologists. Previously they could only be obtained from pharmacies or on a doctor's prescription.

Medsafe, the medicines regulatory body of the Ministry of Health, had recommended a reclassification of nicotine replacement therapies under the Medicines Act 1981, to allow gums, patches, inhalers, sublingual tablets and nasal spray to be supplied through smoking cessation clinics run by appropriate registered health professionals, she said.

"The new policy removes one more obstacle for smokers wishing to kick the habit in the butt.

"The Government has taken a strong stance on smokefree policies and we think this initiative will give extra help to smokers who want to quit the habit," Mrs King said.

Improving access to smoking cessation therapies is a major World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative. In New Zealand, the National Health Committee, National Heart Foundation, Cancer Society, Health Funding Authority and some Independent practitioners associations have expressed support for improved access to nicotine replacement therapies.

Mrs King said she hoped NRTs could be available at selected smoking cessation clinics by mid-April.

For more information, contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305.

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