(NewsUSA) - Quit smoking.
Easy to say, but hard to do, as many smokers can confirm. Encouraging smokers to quit saves billions in health care costs, promotes longer, healthier lives, and restores lost productivity, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA).
Quitting smoking is a challenge, but today the widespread availability of many over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products can make a huge difference in helping smokers quit.
CHPA estimates that quitting smoking with OTC NRT products could save $1.3 billion per year in direct medical care costs in the United States.
In addition, data suggest that former smokers are worth an increase in productivity of approximately $1,300 to $1,800 per employee per year compared with current smokers.
Of course, the health benefits of quitting smoking are as significant as the financial ones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers who quit may reduce their risk of health problems including lung and other cancers, heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, and vascular disease, while their lung function and circulation can improve by as much as 30 percent.
In a recent study, CHPA analyzed nine categories of OTC medications, including those for smoking-cessation. Although smoking cessation products were a smaller part of overall OTC savings than other categories, including allergy medications, cold and flu products, and gastrointestinal products, the data suggests that approximately 1.8 million smokers would not seek help if OTC products were not available.
"In a scenario where OTC medicines are not available in the marketplace, a patient would have to visit a physician to get treatment or diagnosed during normal working hours, causing them to miss work," according to CHPA.
The main types of OTC NRT products available in the United States include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and nicotine lozenges. These FDA-approved products are available in a range of dosages, and they are designed to help reduce the nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting smoking. NRT products can be purchased in most pharmacies, and pharmacists can answer questions and help individuals choose which option may work best for them.
For more information about how OTC medications make a difference in smoking cessation and other areas of health, visit overthecountervalue.org.