DETROIT (WWJ) – The FDA says smokers who are trying to quit can safely use over-the counter nicotine gum, patches and lozenges for longer than previously recommended.

For Dr. Michael Kraut of the Providence Cancer Institute this is good news: “Experience has shown that the side-effects from the gum and the patch excreta are really not serious – not very consequential – the benefit of using those to quit smoking way out-weighs any risk that there would be from that.”

Dr. Kraut says that one in five Americans are still smoking and it’s the number one cause of premature death in the U.S. but he says that many still struggle to quit even after they are diagnosed with cancer.

“Multiple studies have shown that people with curable lung cancer who continue to smoke greatly reduce their chance of cure,” Dr. Kraut told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.

He says that besides cancer “it causes heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, emphysema.”

Dr. Kraut understands that it’s really hard to quit even for those that he see who have already been diagnosed with cancer. “Some people as soon as they hear that word – cancer – they throw the cigarettes away the same day other people – they keep smoking right up until the day they die.”

“Any thing you can do to stop smoking is going to improve your health,” he said. “The idea here is that it’s important to keep trying even if you are not initially successful.”

The government says the labels no longer need to restrict the use to three months or say that you can’t use the gum or patch and still smoke.

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