Q. I am 37 years old male. I used to smoke 15 to 20 cigarettes a day for about 20 years. For last 6 months, I have been using 2 mg Nicotine gum and have reduced my smoking to 1 cigarette a day. I still use about 5 to 7 gums a day. I would like to know how long can the nicotine gum be safely used. I am hypertensive and have been on BP medication for last 8 years.
A. It should be clearly understood that the use of nicotine gum is a stop-gap measure and not a permanent feature to stop smoking. The usual requirement is about 8 to 10 pieces of 2 mg gums a day. The gum should be used for about 10 to 12 weeks and then gradual weaning should be attempted and stopped altogether when only 1 to 2 gums are needed per day. In any event regular use beyond 12 months is not recommended and is not required in great majority of cases since there is always the risk of transfer of dependence on inhaled nicotine to chewed nicotine though the latter is much less harmful. Its use should also be discontinued if there is oral or pharyngeal inflammation, mouth ulcers etc. It can be used in patients with high blood pressure provided hypertension is well controlled. Side effects, if any, generally occur in the first 3-4 weeks and then disappear.
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