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Smokers may have an easier time quitting if Dr. C. Everett Koop can convince a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel to make Nicorette gum available without a prescription. The former Surgeon General told the committee today that nicotine gum has proven its effectiveness in helping smokers quit. "If anyone can convince the FDA to do this, it's probably Koop, who is still seen as America's doctor," notes health care writer Janice Castro. "Until now, nicotine gum has been controlled for fear that users would reinforce their addiction to nicotine." At today's meeting, several medical experts said that tests show users for the most part do not dangerously abuse the drug, which they say is effective in helping smokers kick their habit.