Essex, England – Health care providers, employed by the National Health Service (NHS) South West Essex, have been providing children as young as 12 with nicotine patches in an effort to curb teen smoking. Parents have not been made aware their school age children have access to this service and are upset. They are concerned the kids will see the patches as some kind of status symbol and wear them fashionably, unaware of the health effects associated with nicotine use, reports The Telegraph.
The purpose of the nicotine patch is to assist in quitting for those addicted to cigarette smoking. The patches provide a dose of nicotine through cutaneous absorption in an effort to ease the withdraw symptoms. The general symptoms of nicotine withdrawal is mainly headache, nausea, anxiety, and cravings for more nicotine, hence why most people who initially attempt to quit smoking statistically return to the habit.
Disproportionate amounts of the addictive substance can lead to nicotine poisoning, which is toxic. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning usually start with headaches and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include lisps, stomach pain, seizures, weakness, and drooling. To the non-smoker, excessive use of the patch or any other nicotine based quitting smoking aid should not be used recreationally. It can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, sleeplessness, anxiety, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
NHS South West Essex employs health group Vitality to run the drop in service for kids, according to the Daily Mail. Vitality offers children advice on weight loss as well as advice against smoking. NHS guidelines say children as young as 12 can access nicotine patches throughout the country per the discretion of the primary care trusts.
“Encouraging young people to quit smoking may prevent them from taking up the habit longer term, and so it is important they have somewhere to find confidential support for this … Some local young people who smoke approach our Vitality stop-smoking advisors for advice and support to quit. This support is provided by healthcare professionals such as school nurses or health improvement practitioners, and may include nicotine replacement therapy provided the young person is assessed as competent to consent to using this product.”
Students are allowed to meet with nurses on a confidential basis in a drop in session within their schools. School administrators admit the NHS nurses visit the school and likely dole out patches but state it is not a direct policy of the school to do so.
How would you feel if your children had access to nicotine patches here in the US? If your teen was a smoker, would you want the school or healthcare provider to intervene and provide cessation devices? Would it bother you if they did and you were not told? Do you feel this is an acceptable solution to the problem of teen smoking?
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