[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 2003

Use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy in Adolescent Smokers and Nonsmokers

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis (Drs Klesges, Johnson, and Somes); and Center for Community Health, University of Memphis (Drs Zbikowski and Robinson). Dr Zbikowski is now with the Center for Health Promotion, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Wash; Dr Robinson is now with the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(6):517-522. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.6.517

Background  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.

Objectives  To report the prevalence, ease of access, and reasons for NRT use and describe inappropriate use in adolescent smokers and nonsmokers.

Design  Cross-sectional survey of 4078 high school students during the school term of 1998.

Setting  City schools in Memphis, Tenn.

Main Outcome Measures  Community-based self-reported prevalence of NRT use and characteristics of those using NRT.

Results  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.

Conclusions  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.