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Nicotine Patches And Gum Dont Help Smokers Quit

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Nicotine Patches And Gum Dont Help Smokers Quit

Nicotine patches and gum may not help smokers quit for good…

Quitting smoking is an uphill struggle to say the least, but new research suggest that the treatments available to help smokers kick the habit may not be as effective as first believed. Nicotine patches and nicotine gum are often touted as the easiest way to give up, but a team from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that these nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) may not help smokers in the long run.

The study involved around 800 adult smokers who had recently quit smoking. During two three year periods, from 2001 – 2006, doctors recorded any nicotine replacement therapy used which included patches, gum, inhalers, and nasal sprays – as well as any counseling they had received.

Within each two-year time frame, approximately one-third of those who had quit began to smoke again. NRT was found to have no impact on the relapse rate, regardless of accompanying counseling. Participants who took NRTs for any duration of time were just as likely to start smoking as those who didn’t, and this was true for both heavy and light smokers.

nicotine replacement therapy may not help smokers quit Nicotine Patches And Gum Dont Help Smokers Quit

Nicotine Replacement Therapies May Not Work In The Long Run

Image Credit: Harmon, 2007.

Lead author of the study Hillel Alpert, a research scientist with the Harvard School of Public Healths Center for Global Tobacco Control in Boston, said:

Even though other well-controlled studies have shown that nicotine replacement therapy can be effective, our study looked at real-world use over the long-term…

And in the real world, cigarettes are simply a very powerful addiction. And NRT is apparently not an effective replacement for that addiction.

The study noted that 70 percent of the smokers interviewed said they wanted to quit, and more than 45 percent said they tried to so in the past year.

Researchers concluded that the findings raise serious questions about the effectiveness of NRT, outside a carefully controlled clinical setting.

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Franciscos Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said the new study is a real challenge to the routine use of over-the-counter NRT outside of a clinical setting. However he also noted that:

This is just one study, and its not terribly huge. And this study isnt saying that these pharmacologic aids dont work at all. It just says that NRT doesnt work in the unsupervised, over-the-counter context. So we dont necessarily want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Alpert’s study, which was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute was published in the Jan. 9 online edition of Tobacco Control.


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