Boynton offers nicotine patch free to U students

Craig Gustafson

Boynton Health Service began distributing more than 12,000 free nicotine patches Wednesday to 292 of the University’s estimated 14,400 smokers.
Anyone with a U Card can obtain a free six-week supply of the patches from Boynton’s pharmacy department until they run out. Each box normally costs about $150.
McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, donated the truck load of nicotine patches.
The 146 boxes comprised the third shipment donated in the past six months. The two other shipments delivered this year each lasted less than a month.
“I wouldn’t have predicted them to go that fast,” said Dave Golden, a Boynton health specialist.
He said the patches are a fairly popular method of quitting smoking, and handing them out free adds to their popularity.
The nicotine patch, first introduced in the 1980s, works by slowly releasing nicotine into the bloodstream through pores in the skin.
Boynton’s nicotine patches are attached to the upper chest using an adhesive. They should be worn for no more than 16 hours a day.
Some types of nicotine patches gradually reduce the nicotine dosage throughout the six-week treatment period. The Boynton patches, however, remain at the same dosage for all six weeks. But Golden said both methods have similar effectiveness.
The patch reduces withdrawal symptoms by supplying the body with a steady source of nicotine, although it doesn’t deliver the same rush as the day’s first cigarette.
The patch can help people gradually quit smoking, Golden said.
Harry Lando, a University epidemiology professor, said the difference between smoking a cigarette and using a nicotine patch is startling.
“The cigarette is like a burning chemical factory,” he said, adding that a cigarette contains 43 carcinogens.
A patch, on the other hand, only emits nicotine.
“Basically, your odds of dying from smoking are about one in two,” Lando said. “Your chance of dying from nicotine is one in a million.”
Although nicotine patches can be used alone, physicians suggest using them in conjunction with a support program.
A 1998 Boynton study said 8.8 percent of University students smoke tobacco products every day, compared with 64 percent who never smoke.
For people unable to quit smoking with the patch, the University is working on other ways to help.
Last week, University researchers received a $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study ways to reduce nicotine levels in smokers who have been resistant to conventional methods of intervention.

Craig Gustafson covers the Medical School and welcomes comments at [email protected]