Objectives: This study examined whether the change in nicotine replacement therapy sales from prescription to over the counter (OTC) status affected smoking cessation.
Methods: We used the 1993-1999 Massachusetts Tobacco Surveys to compare data from adult current smokers and recent quitters before and after the OTC switch.
Results: No significant change over time occurred in the proportion of smokers who used nicotine replacement therapy at a quit attempt in the past year (20.1% pre-OTC vs 21.4% post-OTC), made a quit attempt in the past year (48.1% vs 45.2%), or quit smoking in the past year (8.1% vs 11.1%). Fewer non-Whites used nicotine replacement therapy after the switch (20.7% pre-OTC vs 3.2% post-OTC, P =.002), but the proportion of Whites using nicotine replacement therapy did not change significantly (20.6% vs 24.0%).
Conclusions: We observed no increase in Massachusetts smokers' rates of using nicotine replacement therapy, making a quit attempt, or stopping smoking after nicotine replacement therapy became available for OTC sale. There appear to be other barriers to the use of nicotine replacement therapy besides visiting a physician, especially among minority smokers.