Sales of Nicotine Patches and Gums Slow as More Smokers Turn to E-Cigarettes to Quit

Sales of nicotine patches and gums are slowing as more smokers are turning to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking regular cigarettes, Reuters reports.

Since e-cigarettes are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as smoking cessation devices, e-cigarette makers cannot market them as quit-smoking aids. Companies get around the restriction by using phrases such as “kiss tobacco goodbye,” with a disclaimer that e-cigarettes are not a smoking cessation product.

Sales of nicotine replacement products worldwide grew 1.2 percent last year, to almost $2.4 billion, the story notes. The United States accounted for $900 million of those sales. The global market for e-cigarettes is $5 billion, with at least half from U.S. sales. Large tobacco companies including Altria, Reynolds American and Lorillard are manufacturing e-cigarettes.

Mark Strobel of the consumer research firm Euromonitor told Reuters e-cigarettes have slowed nicotine replacement therapy sales. “For some consumers it has been a direct substitution,” Strobel said. Other factors for slowing sales include the relatively high prices of nicotine replacement products, as well as a shrinking number of smokers, especially in the United States.

Health experts are debating the role of e-cigarettes’ use in smoking cessation. A study published in 2014 found smokers are 60 percent more likely to be successful in quitting smoking if they switch to e-cigarettes, instead of using nicotine products such as gum or patches. Many health experts are concerned e-cigarettes will become established quit-smoking aids before enough research is done on their impact on health.