Journal of Smoking Cessation


Perceived Safety of Nicotine and the Use of Nicotine Replacement Products Among Current Smokers in Great Britain: Results From Two National Surveys

Alex Bobaka1, Saul Shiffmana2, Joseph G. Gitchella3, John Berya4 and Stuart G. Fergusona5 c1

a1 Wandsworth Medical Centre, London, United Kingdom.

a2 Pinney Associates, Pittsburgh, United States of America; University of Pittsburgh, United States of America.

a3 Pinney Associates, Bethesda, United States of America.

a4 Pathouse Medical Practice, Kirkcaldy, United Kingdom.

a5 Pinney Associates, Pittsburgh, United States of America; University of Tasmania, Australia; Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Australia.


The hypotheses that smokers hold misconceptions around nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) safety, and that these concerns limit the use of NRT, was tested with two large face-to-face surveys of current smokers in Great Britain in 2004 (N = 605) and 2006 (N = 1,434). In both studies, participants were questioned regarding the safety of nicotine and NRT products, their past experience with NRT and anticipated future use. Across both surveys, approximately two thirds of smokers believed that, or were unsure whether, NRT was as harmful as cigarette smoking. Combining information across surveys, smokers with safety misconceptions reported being less likely to want to quit in the future (63% vs. 73%; p < .001), and, among those who were interested in quitting, were less likely to report an intention to use NRT during their next quit attempt. The majority of smokers were misinformed about the safety of NRT products, and smokers with safety misconceptions were less likely to report that they plan to use NRT during future quit attempts, suggesting that safety concerns are a barrier to NRT utilisation.


  • NRT;
  • nicotine;
  • nicotine replacement;
  • safety;
  • efficacy


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Stuart Ferguson, School of Pharmacy, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 26, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001, Australia.