Assessing whether and how adolescents use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) will be important given recent recommendations to make NRT more accessible by lowering its price, increasing its distribution, and advising health care professionals to suggest its use for smoking cessation.
To report the prevalence, ease of access, and reasons for NRT use and describe inappropriate use in adolescent smokers and nonsmokers.
Cross-sectional survey of 4078 high school students during the school term of 1998.
City schools in Memphis, Tenn.
Main Outcome Measures
Community-based self-reported prevalence of NRT use and characteristics of those using NRT.
Approximately 5% of adolescents reported trying or using nicotine gum or patches. Females were less likely than males and African Americans were less likely than others to use NRT. For African American smokers, NRT use was highest at lower smoking levels, while other smokers showed the opposite pattern. Almost 40% of former smokers reported using NRT to try to quit smoking; however, 75% of current smokers endorsed using NRT for reasons other than trying to quit smoking. Other inappropriate use of NRT was reported; 18% of NRT users reported themselves as never smokers. More than 50% of students reported that it would be easy for them to get NRT.
Nicotine replacement therapy is used by adolescent smokers and nonsmokers, is easily accessible, and is used for reasons other than trying to quit smoking. Efforts are needed to discourage NRT use in nonsmoking youth and to encourage appropriate use of NRT in young smokers to maximize its potential for successful cessation.