Why are nicotine replacement products so expensive?

nicotine replacement therapyCost is a big factor in buying cigarettes, but it can also be a factor when it comes to stopping smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is expensive, and many who are desperate to move past those strong nicotine cravings wonder why that is.

Nicotine replacement therapy comes in different forms, including:

  • Patches
  • Gum
  • Nasal or mouth spray
  • Lozenges
  • Tablets
  • E-cigarettes/ vaping devices

They work by releasing nicotine into the body to decrease cravings for the nicotine normally consumed by smoking. By providing the system with a low dose of nicotine, these nicotine replacement treatments reduce the need to smoke and allow would-be quitters to avoid the carcinogenic tar, carbon monoxide and chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

Aside from being addictive, nicotine is not considered dangerous when taken for a short period of time. It is the other chemicals found in cigarette smoke that cause heart and lung diseases.

Nevertheless, when made available in these preparations, the price of nicotine seems to skyrocket. Prohibitive prices can make it feel harder to stop smoking, so why are NRT products so expensive?

Nicotine gum and other replacement therapies belong to a group of treatments that are priced in relation to demand, and this demand has steadily increased. According to Action on Smoking and Health, in 2005 the licensing arrangements for Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) were changed to widen access to the therapies and remove some of the contra-indications that had previously been applied.

The therapies also experienced higher demand after the 2007 implementation of smoke-free legislation that banned smoking in indoor workplaces.

The increased demand spurred suppliers to further increase prices on nicotine replacement therapy without a prescription.

Essentially, nicotine replacement therapy is expensive because charges are based on what the market will bear: smokers are willing to pay high prices for nicotine gum and patches, so high prices are charged.

Nicotine replacement therapy on the NHS

Though the NHS can prescribe nicotine replacement therapy either free or on prescription, it will not provide it indefinitely, and many smokers find that they need the products for longer than anticipated. They may also experience setbacks along the way, and if one doesn’t stick to a programme designed to help you quit for good, the NHS doctors won’t continue to prescribe the replacement therapies.

Studies have shown that successfully breaking the habit involves more than just stopping smoking – it requires an integrated approach, including setting a quit date, having a plan to deal with cravings, and support from a doctor or smoking adviser. Simply using nicotine replacement aids normally isn’t enough to curb the cravings for good, but it does help people to avoid the chemicals found in cigarette smoke. This may be another reason why consumers continue to purchase NRT despite high prices – they feel good about not smoking but remain dependent on the substance.

Aside from nicotine replacement therapies, the NHS has endorsed two other stop-smoking aids: Champix (varenicline) tablets and Zyban (buproprion) tablets.

These work in a different way than NRT, as they do not contain nicotine. Instead, they act by reducing cravings for cigarettes and helping with withdrawal symptoms. They also interfere with the effects of nicotine if you do smoke a cigarette, making smoking less satisfying.

Champix, which has been proven to be more effective than Zyban in several studies, is offered on the Dr. Fox website. It comes at a cost of £192.00 for the full recommended 12-week course (£16 per week) with a prescription from Dr. Fox. You can view all Champix prices here.

With Champix, there is less chance of remaining dependent on nicotine. It raises your chances of success, without the continued ingestion of the addictive substance. So, with the right stop-smoking plan, support and Champix to diminish those cravings, the expenses related to both smoking and stopping can end once you’ve left the habit behind for good.