United States smokers who want to go cold turkey may, like their counterparts in Europe and Canada, someday be able to obtain prescriptions for nicotine chewing gum from their physicians. But the gum may be helpful only to certain smokers, and its role in facilitating cigarette withdrawal may be less straightforward than that of simple nicotine replacement.
The gum, manufactured by AB Leo, Helsingborg, Sweden, and distributed by Dow Chemical Company, will soon undergo clinical tests by UCLA's Murray E. Jarvik, MD, PhD, and Nina G. Schneider, PhD, under a four-year, $138,000 grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Previous research has shown that the gum produces variable blood nicotine levels only roughly comparable with those obtained when smoking and that the satisfaction it affords a particular chewer seems unrelated to his plasma nicotine level. Because the gum can produce plasma nicotine levels several times greater than those produced