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Early Patch Use Helps Smokers Quit

Wearing Nicotine Patch Prior to Quitting Doubles Success

Strategy Appears Safe

Rose says the FDA may need to re-evaluate its current warning against smoking while wearing the nicotine patch if the findings are confirmed.

Nicotine overdose has not been found to be a problem in any of the studies.

Smoking cessation expert Scott J. Leischow, PhD, tells WebMD that early concerns about nicotine overdosing have not been borne out by the research.

"What these studies seem to show is that rather than getting a lot more nicotine, people tend to compensate for the nicotine they get through the patch," he says.

In other words, when smokers get the nicotine their bodies crave they tend to smoke fewer cigarettes.

Rose likens it to sitting down to a big meal when you are already full.

"When wearing a nicotine patch, the body and brain already have a certain level of nicotine, so the cigarette's delivery of nicotine is not as noticeable," he says.

Leischow, who is deputy director of the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona, says smokers who use nicotine replacement medications for a short time before quitting may end up using them more effectively.

He is a former senior advisor for tobacco policy for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and former chief of the Tobacco Control Research Branch for the National Cancer Institute.

"This approach looks very promising," he says. "Clearly, a more effective method of using these medications could be very beneficial."

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