Beliefs of stop smoking practitioners in United Kingdom on the use of nicotine replacement therapy for smoking reduction
Background: This paper aimed to assess the current beliefs of stop smoking practitioners and managers about using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for smoking reduction (SR) and the factors related to these beliefs. Methods: An online survey was conducted of practitioners and managers working in the 152 English stop smoking services (SSSs). Questions were asked about their beliefs concerning the safety of using NRT for SR. Results: Sixteen percent and 30% of the sample, respectively, believed that NRT use for a year or more and the concurrent use of NRT and cigarettes was harmful to health. The most commonly reported potential harms of the long-term use of NRT and the concurrent use of NRT and cigarettes were addiction, overdose and mouth cancer. Seventeen percent of the sample also believed that the use of NRT for SR could hinder smoking cessation. Reports differed as a function of the managers' relationship with their commissioner and influence on the commissioning process, while among practitioners as a function of the number of months worked, gender, frequency of update training and whether they advised reduction as a treatment option. Conclusions: A significant minority of stop smoking practitioners and stop smoking managers believe that NRT use for SR can be harmful to health and undermine smoking cessation. These beliefs should be addressed, especially if the use of NRT in these ways is provided as a route to quitting in SSSs.