Nicotine Patches May Not Help Smokers Quit

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BOSTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Nicotine patches and nicotine gum do not appear to be effective in helping smokers quit long-term, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Hillel Alpert, research scientist at Harvard School of Public Health, and co-author Lois Biener of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Survey Research, tracked 787 adults in Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking.

The participants were surveyed during three time periods — 2001-2002, 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 — and asked whether they used a nicotine replacement therapy in the form of the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler or nasal spray.

The results, published in Tobacco Control, showed almost one-third of recent quitters reported to have relapsed during each time period — and there was no difference in the relapse rate among those who used nicotine replacement therapy for more than six weeks, with or without professional counseling, and that of smokers who did not use nicotine replacement therapy.

In addition, no difference in quitting success with use of nicotine replacement therapy was found for either heavy or light smokers.

“This study shows that using nicotine replacement therapy is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long-term than trying to quit on one’s own,” Alpert said in a statement.

Even though clinical trials found nicotine replacement therapy to be effective, the new findings demonstrate the importance of empirical studies regarding effectiveness when used in the general population, Alpert said.

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