Smoking in public is banned. But it is perhaps the most common sight on the street. Nonetheless, an increasing number of men and women in the twin cities are out to kick the butt. A measure of their resolve could be gauged directly from the sales of nicotine patches and chewing gums at medical stores. Going by the figures, it seems more are willing, even if not succeeding, to get rid of the habit.
A nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that releases nicotine into the body through the skin and is used as a Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). The concept of using patches or even chewing gums gained ground in the city in the last two years, according to medical store owners. Shares Srinivas from a medical store in Banjara Hills, “We have two-three varieties of nicotine chewing gums and these are bought regularly by smokers. We end up selling around four boxes every week.”
Agreeing with him, Raheen from Mor Chemists, says, “we have both chewing gums and patches. While gums can be sold to anyone and everyone, patches are only sold if a patient comes to us with a prescription. Considering this factor, the sale of chewing gums is way higher. We sell only around 10 patches or less in a month.” So, what kind of customers pick up chewing gums and patches? “It’s a mix of men and women. While it is usually men who come with prescription for a nicotine patch, women only come for the chewing gum,” he replies. Medical store owners seem content with the sales their collection of nicotine gums and patches are making but one wonders if the smokers who are buying these products really end up quitting.
“Using it is a psychological thing,” opines Varun Rao, a software engineer who tried to quit smoking using nicotine chewing gums. “It didn’t work for me at all. I lasted a week and ended up smoking again. It actually increases one’s urge to smoke even more,” he claims.
Varun is not the only one who is not a big fan of the NRT. Echoing his views, Nihar Jain, a content writer, recalls, “I decided to quit smoking and used chewing gums. I didn’t like the taste at all and have been cold turkey for two weeks now. So, I believe that one needs will power more than these kind of therapies.”
Interestingly, doctors too say much the same. Explains Dr Jayachandra, a pulmonologist, “Nicotine patches/gums are nothing but a replacement for an addiction. So, when a smoker craves for a cigarette, he/she can use these therapies to get their nicotine kick. But, this is not a long-term solution.” He prescribes nicotine patches to his patients, but admits only 10 per cent of them end up quitting, while the rest go back to smoking. “It is all about will power. If one has the will to quit smoking, they will do so without the help of such therapies. Plus, I believe that they need proper counselling and family’s support as well,” he observes.
While Dr Jayachandra speaks about will power, Dr Abuzar Abdul Wahab from the city also says that NRT may have more disadvantages than advantages. He explains, “NRT may be helpful because the body receives nicotine through gums and patches, minimising its effect on lungs which happens because of smoking. But, it has more number of disadvantages that come along. Since one does not need to go to a specific place to have a gum or a patch, they can receive constant supply of nicotine. There are times when people use more than one gum or patch, which can lead to a high risk of nicotine overdose. Such an overdose can have fatal consequences as well. So, I suggest that NRT be used in a prescribed manner and focus should be more on will power.”