More Americans Try To Quit Smoking
ATLANTA (AP) - Americans are trying to quit smoking four times more often than they did in the years before the introduction of nicotine gum, patches and other products that help people kick the habit, the government reported Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from pharmacies and over-the-counter purchases of smoking cessation products to conclude that Americans made more than 8 million attempts to quit smoking in 1997 and 1998, the latest years available. That's up from about 2 million in 1991, the year before the introduction of the nicotine patch.
In 1998, the nicotine patch accounted for 49 percent of the drug-assisted attempts to quit, nicotine gum 28 percent and Zyban - a prescription drug - 21 percent. The nicotine inhaler and nasal spray accounted for less than 3 percent.
The CDC said attempts to quit increased nearly every time a new product was made available.
The CDC said the survey may overestimate attempts to quit because the numbers are based on sales data rather than questioning users. It's also impossible to determine if smokers were buying the product to quit or using it as a substitute for smoking in places where it is banned.
The CDC, which says about 48 million U.S. adults smoke, did not track how many of the attempts to quit failed.
Having a variety of products helps smokers find ways to quit, said Rod Todd of the American Cancer Society.
``Smokers are always looking for something that will be helpful and you never know with product might work the best for a particular smoker,'' he said.
About 70 percent of people who smoke want to quit and 35 to 45 percent of them will try to quit in any given year, Todd said. It's common for smokers to go through several cycles of attempting to quit, going back to smoking and then trying to quit again.
``We know that all of these work and they've been shown to work,'' said Saul Shiffman, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's smoking research group. ``The challenge is getting people to use them. Even though these products work and people are so eager to quit smoking, too few people use these treatments.''
The CDC recommended that smoking-cessation products be included as an insured medical benefit. The report also said decreasing the cost of treatment could increase the number of people who try to quit.
``The prevalence of smoking is higher among persons of low socio-economic status and access to these treatments must be assured to these populations,'' the report said.