Science / Medicine : Nicotine Gum of Little Help

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

Nicotine gum, chewed by smokers trying to kick the habit, is probably of little value in the way it is most often used, researchers said last week.

The finding was based on a study of 315 smokers, some of whom were given the gum and others a look-alike without nicotine.

After one year there was no statistically significant difference between those given the nicotine gum and those who had the placebo in terms of how many were able to stop smoking, doctors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine said.

“We conclude that, when used with a nonselected group of smokers and a brief intervention in general medical practice, the pharmacologic effects of nicotine gum to increase smoking cessation are either small or nonexistent,” they said.


“This conclusion is important because the large majority (99%) of smokers are not screened for nicotine dependence and receive nicotine gum with brief intervention,” they added. The study was published the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The report said the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for the gum specify that it be used in conjunction with a behavioral modification program. But the study said 99.5% of those given the gum are not in such a program, are unwilling to enter one and receive the gum after only a brief visit with their physician.