Nicotine patch subsidy considered

AS SMOKERS flock to doctors and chemists seeking help to quit the dreaded fags, the Federal Government is considering subsidising nicotine patches up to 95 per cent of the retail cost.

Under the plan recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, consum-ers will only have to pay $33.40 for a $118 monthly course, and pensioners and people on welfarebenefits will only have to pay $5.40 a month.

The subsidy is expected to only cover a three-month treatment period each year.

Despite some critics suggesting such a move would undermine smoker’s commitment to quit, Alstonville GP and chair of the Northern Rivers General Practice Network, Dr Tony Lembke, said it was an excellent proposal.

“There has been a dramatic upsurge in people seeking to cease smoking since the new tax came into effect,” he said.

“As the Government is making huge profits from the tax it should use more of that money to assist people to quit smoking.

However, Goonellabah GP Dr Andrew Binns was not so sure subsidised nicotine replacement therapy would be effective in reducing the number of smokers in the community.

He believes the Champix program is better for ‘serious quitters’, in conjunction with support from a GP and the Quitline program.

Dr Lembke agreed the key to quitting was ‘getting in the right mind-space’.

However, he believed different ways suited different people and the more options available the better.

“Champix is an excellent product, but it doesn’t suit everyone,” he said. “There is good evidence to suggest that people can quit smoking with nicotine replacement therapy.”

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