Physicians can help their patients quit smoking by recommending to all of their patients that they quit smoking, and recommending that they quit with the help of nicotine replacement medications. Nicotine replacement medications aid smokers in their cessation efforts by relieving the physiologic symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Because nicotine medications do not deliver myriad toxins and carcinogens that cigarettes deliver, these medications are safe when used as directed. Although the efficacy of nicotine medications in helping smokers to quit has been well documented, there is much room for improvement. There are improvements that could be made to the products themselves, but there are also improvements that could be made in the way that these products are regulated, compared with tobacco products. Cigarettes are highly appealing to smokers, inexpensive, and easy to produce, whereas nicotine medications are generally unappealing to smokers, expensive, and often require a prescription. In addition, cigarettes are available at gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, and vending machines, whereas nicotine replacement medications currently are available only in stores that sell pharmaceuticals. So long as these barriers to effective treatment exist, many smokers are likely to continue to use the more appealing, and deadly, cigarettes.
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