Need a helping hand to quit? Nicotine patches available on the PBS

Wednesday 10 September, 2014

New survey finds few aware of affordable NRT products

Smokers looking to kick the habit for good can access subsidised nicotine patches on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Quit Victoria reminded smokers today.

Quit Victoria Cessation and Partnerships Manager, Luke Atkin, said nicotine patches had been available on the PBS since February 2011.

"Subsidised Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products like patches can increase the number of smokers attempting to quit, and the number who quit successfully," Mr Atkin said.

"However, recent Cancer Council Victoria research has found that just over half (52%) of Victorian smokers are not aware of their availability on the PBS.1

"Of those who were aware, older smokers (57%) were significantly more likely to know about the availability of products like nicotine patches on the PBS than middle-aged (42%) and younger smokers (41%).2

"What the research demonstrates is the need to raise smokers' awareness of the options available to them in quitting.

"With access to less expensive NRT products and a wide range of support services including Quitline, there's never been a better time to kick the habit for good."

Mr Atkin said the second of four successive 12.5% cigarette tax increases, which came into effect on Monday, 1 September, would spur more smokers to quit.

"With the cost of an average packet of cigarettes now around $20, we know some smokers seeking to quit will look at alternatives like NRT," he said.

Mr Atkin also said access to subsidised nicotine patches can be particularly beneficial for smokers in lower income areas.

"Smoking rates are more than twice the average in lower income areas, so it's important that people wanting to try patches when they quit are not deterred by the cost involved," he said.

"Having NRT products on the PBS has made quitting less expensive and more likely to succeed, so it's important we get this message out to smokers.

"Not only will quitting improve people's health it will also deliver a welcome boost to the household budget in many cases."

For help to quit smoking, contact Quitline on 13 78 48 or go to www.quit.org.au

1 Victorian smokers' knowledge of nicotine patches being on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, August 2014, p.3
2 Victorian smokers' knowledge of nicotine patches being on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, August 2014, p.4

Updated: 10 Sep, 2014