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American Legacy Foundation Comments on New York State Department of Health Petition to the FDA to Expand Consumer Access to Over the Counter Nicotine Medications
Date:1/28/2008

A Statement by Dr. Cheryl Healton, President and CEO

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Legacy Foundation applauds the New York State Department of Health for taking a leadership role in petitioning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow over-the-counter sales of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) in all retail locations where cigarettes are sold. This petition attempts to move forward easier access to the nicotine products that have proven effective in helping smokers quit.

There are 45 million Americans who smoke and each year, 70 percent report that they want to quit. Each smoker works to do so differently; the average former smoker makes eight to 11 attempts to quit. One barrier to quitting is the lack of access to nicotine replacement therapies and this petition to the FDA can help provide easier access to these medications in packages that are comparable in price to cigarettes and provide accurate information about the risks and benefits of NRTs relative to continued smoking.

The American Legacy Foundation has long recommended that smokers who want to increase their odds of success in quitting should make a plan, set a date, and talk with their physician to seek counsel on nicotine replacement medications that will work best for them. Ending nicotine addiction is difficult and smoking cessation medications such as nicotine replacement therapies -- like the patch, lozenge, gum or inhaler -- taken individually or in combination can prove remarkably helpful in minimizing cravings for nicotine while smokers work to quit.

No matter how smokers choose to quit, it is ultimately one of the single most important lifestyle changes they can make to improve and extend their lives. Tobacco-related death is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.; smokers therefore need to be armed with all the available information to make the best, most informed choices about the smoking cessation medications available to them.

The American Legacy Foundation is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use; and a nationally-renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit http://www.americanlegacy.org.


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SOURCE American Legacy Foundation
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