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HongKong: Free Chinese meds patch to help smokers quit
author:Marcus Lumsource:The Standard 2024-05-29 [Medicine]
The Department of Health is offering free Chinese medicine ear-point patches to help people quit smoking in over 40 designated Chinese medicine clinics next month.

These patches can help reduce the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal, especially in the early stages, by applying cowherb seeds to stimulate acupuncture points on the ear.

"It is beneficial for smokers of all ages to quit smoking as it brings immediate and long-term health benefits. Smokers who stay tobacco-free for four weeks will be five times more likely to quit for good," a spokesman said.

In addition to the patches, the department will continue to offer one-week smoking cessation drug trial packs at more than 250 community pharmacies, smoking cessation clinics, and district health centers/expresses.

After a simple assessment, people can scan a QR code with the "Quit Smoking App" to obtain the free Chinese medicine ear-point patches or one-week smoking cessation drug trial pack.

If they decide to receive further smoking cessation treatment, they can make an appointment for free services at smoking cessation clinics, district health centers or expresses.

Smokers can also use the mail-to-quit service to receive cessation medications by post and follow up by phone for free.

Pok Oi Hospital registered Chinese medicine practitioner Tang Yan-yan said: "The ear-point patch therapy is simple, safe and does not involve invasive treatments like acupuncture, making it suitable for people who may be afraid of or unsuitable for acupuncture."

The head of the department's tobacco and alcohol control office, Fung Ying, said Chinese medicine smoking cessation services have a success rate of over 20 percent, comparable to nicotine replacement therapy.

By adding the ear-pressing method, the hope is that it will provide smokers with an additional option to quit.

The pilot program started on Friday and will run until July 31. Depending on the process and effectiveness, the authorities will consider expanding the service to more locations.