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Use of nicotine replacement therapy and stop-smoking medicines in a national sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers and ex-smokers

In 2012–2013, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults smoked, 2.5 times the age-standardised prevalence among other Australian adults, and 26% were ex-smokers.1 Although the proportion of those who had ever smoked and had successfully quit was only 37%, compared with 63% of other Australians, this had increased from 24% in 2002.1,2 Several types of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT; gum, patches, lozenges, sublingual tablets and inhalers) and two prescription-only stop-smoking medicines (SSMs; bupropion and varenicline) are available in Australia to assist cessation.3 All have been shown to increase the chance of successfully quitting, with varenicline and combinations of NRT being the most effective.4

Nicotine gum became available in Australia in the 1980s, followed by patches in the 1990s and other forms of NRT in the past decade.3 Over-the-counter availability of NRT occurred first in pharmacies, then supermarkets. Subsidised availability by prescription for patches followed listing with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for veterans from 1994, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 2009, and all others from 2011. Bupropion was listed on the PBS in 2001, and varenicline in 2008.