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FDA Expands Guidelines for Nicotine Replacement Use

Update Date: Apr 01, 2013 02:10 PM EDT

The U.S government has consistently been more aggressive in its campaigns to encourage smokers to quit the unhealthy habit. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently abandoned the project to place gruesome pictures of the side effects of smoking on cigarette packs, the agency has taken other measures in the fight against smoking. A more recent attempt to promote quitting, the FDA has decided to loosen the restrictions for nicotine replacement usage, allowing manufacturers to lengthen the time period that people can use the products for.

Currently, the use of over the counter nicotine gum, patches and lozenges comes with a warning on how long people should use these products for, recommending consumers to stop using the nicotine products after 12 weeks. Based on research, the FDA believes that extending the period in which people can use nicotine could ideally lead to more people quitting the habit. The FDA believes that 12 weeks might not be long enough for people to recuperate and quit smoking. People who do not find nicotine useful after the 12 weeks have a higher chance of going back to smoking. Therefore, the FDA is allowing companies to change their labels.

The new labels would no longer recommend stopping usage at 12 weeks. Instead, they would inform consumers to continue usage as a part of a quitting plan under a careful eye of a doctor. The use of nicotine products, when they entered the over the counter market, was restricted by the FDA because there was no information regarding the long-term effects of nicotine.  However, despite the unknown consequences of prolonged use, the FDA ultimately decided to loosen the restrictions hoping that it would allow people more time to quit. In addition, the FDA believes that extended usage will encourage people and keep them on their path toward a healthier lifestyle.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, over 45 million Americans are smokers with half of them attempting to kick the habit. Smoking is the leading cause of diseases and complications that can be preventable. Not only is smoking bad for the individual, it can also lead to health complications for secondhand smokers. With this new regulation, the FDA hopes that these people can successfully quit. 

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