There is no question that the single most important step a person can take toward improved health is to stop smoking. Nobody ever would or should say this step is easy, though. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to stop and several medicines that can help, from varenicline (Chantix) to nicotine patches or nicotine gum. But sometimes people find it difficult to quit the nicotine replacements. Is this a problem?
Must You Quit Nicotine Gum?
Q. I quit smoking six years ago by using nicotine gum. The trouble is, I haven’t quit the gum. Since I quit smoking I chew about 10 pieces of 4 mg gum per day. What health risks are there from long-term use?
A. Nicotine is by all accounts a highly addictive substance. Some people have called cigarettes nicotine delivery devices because it is this drug that makes it so hard to quit smoking.
Nicotine-containing gum has been around for more than three decades. It has helped many people give up cigarettes. And there is no doubt that the gum is safer. That’s because cigarette smoke contains carcinogenic chemicals.
Having Trouble Giving Up Gum:
You are not the only person to find yourself dependent on nicotine gum, however. Side effects may include digestive upset, hiccups, sore throat, headache and heart palpitations.
Even after all this time, though, experts are not sure whether long-term use of nicotine gum poses serious health risks. You may find that switching to a nicotine patch makes it easier to gradually wean yourself from nicotine.