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March 2004

Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Teenagers: About Time or a Waste of Time?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158(3):205-206. doi:10.1001/archpedi.158.3.205

One quarter of teenagers who try smoking ultimately will meet diagnostic criteria for nicotine dependence,1 and several studies have found evidence of nicotine dependence among adolescent smokers.2 Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a safe and effective mainstay of adult smoking cessation, and current clinical practice guidelines for treating tobacco use and dependence suggest that physicians consider the use of NRT with adolescents with obvious nicotine dependence who want to quit smoking.3 As Johnson et al4 describe, NRT products are easily accessible by minors without proof of age, and some authors advocate unfettered access to NRT beginning as young as 12 years of age.5 Use of NRT in adolescents is a well-reasoned, straightforward therapeutic option with only one problem: there is no evidence to date that NRT will play a major role in tobacco use cessation for teenagers.

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