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Nicotine replacement therapies up in smoke? (USA)

January 12, 2012

A new study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and University of Massachusetts discovered that nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) – which include patches, gum, inhaler and nasal sprays – on their own do not help people to quit smoking over the long term. In fact, investigators found that NRTs are not more effective than simply quitting cold turkey.

Researchers published their findings in the January 10, 2012 online version of the journal, Tobacco Control. During the study, they followed nearly 800 adults who quit smoking in the previous two years. The subjects were interviewed three times between 2001 and 2006. Investigators found that more than 30 per cent had relapsed in spite of NRT. In addition, subjects using an NRT but not receiving professional counseling were found to be twice as likely to re-start smoking. The study concludes that over the long-term, people who did and did not use nicotine replacement therapies returned to their smoking habits at approximately the same rate.

In their coverage of this study, the Toronto Star interviewed Peter Selby, from the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, who reminded readers that NRTs are only one component, and one option, of a successful plan to help people quit smoking.

To read the online abstract in Tobacco Control “A prospective cohort study challenging the effectiveness of population-based medical intervention for smoking cessation” go to www.tobaccocontrol.bmj.com. The Toronto Star article can be found at www.thestar.com.

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