Non-cigarette nicotine 'should be more widely available'

In collaboration with the Press Association

Nicotine should be freely available in products that do not carry messages about cigarettes' health risks, in order to help smokers who find it difficult to quit, say doctors.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has argued that more needs to be done to help heavily addicted smokers. For example, providing smokers with safer sources of nicotine that are acceptable and effective cigarette substitutes, giving them the nicotine "hit" they seek without the serious health risks associated with tobacco.

Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP Tobacco Advisory Group, who spoke at the launch of a new report, "Harm reduction in Nicotine Addiction: Helping people who can't quit", explained that the focus is currently narrowly directed on preventing people from taking up smoking and getting smokers to quit completely.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said: "We welcome this report which highlights the stark fact that cigarettes - which are the most dangerous way of obtaining nicotine - are freely available and accessible, while medicinal nicotine products - which by comparison carry minimal risk - are heavily regulated and therefore much less readily available.

"We also strongly support a fully-independent Tobacco and Nicotine Regulatory Authority to govern all tobacco and nicotine products. If nicotine can be provided in a form and at a price that offers a far more attractive and accessible alternative to smoking than at present, many lives could be saved."