Het moet de farmaceutische nicotineproducenten als muziek in de oren klinken: ze zijn er in geslaagd de markt van nicotineverslaving over te nemen van de tabaksfabrikanten. En de meest responderende doelgroep is dezelfde als bij roken: jongeren.
Dat blijkt bij nadere bestudering van een onderzoek dat al in 1998 gehouden werd onder met name 17-jarige highschool studenten.
A study published in the June 2003 edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine entitled “Use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy in Adolescent Smokers and Nonsmokers,” reflects 1998 survey responses of 4,078 Memphis high school students who were primarily seventeen years of age, 84% of whom were minority students.
Among those responding, 258 (6%) reported being current smokers of at least one cigarette a day, while 216 students ( 5%) reported having used the nicotine patch or gum. A closer look at the 216 users shows that 16% currently use NRT every day, 20% use it several times a week, and 64% have used it at least once but less than weekly.
Although the study ignores smokeless tobacco use, its findings raise serious concerns that students may be establishing chemical dependency upon nicotine without ever using tobacco products. Among the 216 NRT users, 40 represented that they had “never smoked a cigarette, not even a few puffs.” Yet, 11 of the same 40 report using NRT several times a week and 7 others say that they use it every day.
Amplifying such concerns are the September 2002 youth dependency study findings of Dr. Joseph DiFranza, published in Tobacco Control, announcing that teens are becoming hooked on tobacco much quicker than previously thought. According to Dr. DiFranza, the onset of loss of autonomy to simply turn and walk away often occurs in a matter of days and after only a few uses.
Although we know that the 21 mg. patch delivers the nicotine equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes, there is as yet no available research studying the patch’s potential for establishing the onset of permanent chemical dependency in youth.