Nicotine Replacement Therapies Do Help

Quitting smoking is tough but using a nicotine patch or smoking cessation drug can help

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Nicotine patches or prescriptions like Zyban and Chantix can help smokers quit. Staying strong and not going back to smoking is the hard part and these aids can help.

A recent study crunched the numbers on how well nicotine replacement therapies actually worked. Researchers found that smokers who use quit smoking aids are more likely to succeed.

"Try the patch or talk to your doctor about quitting today!"

Karin Kasza, MA, statistician in the Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences, Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior, at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), investigated smoking cessation medications.

For the study, 2550 adult smokers from 2006 to 2009 participated in the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey (ITC-4).

The four countries involved were the UK, Canada, Australia and the U.S. Each smoker in the study made at least one quit attempt from 2006 to 2009.

Participants were interviewed within one month of a quit attempt and again after six months.

Researchers accounted for nicotine patches, bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or no NRT during quit attempts.

Nicotine patch users had a 11-25 percent quit rate, bupropion users had a 14-29 percent quit rate, and varenicline users had a 17-33 percent quit rate.

Smokers using no NRT had a 5-21 percent quit rate and the most likelihood of returning back to smoking.

Kasza said, “Consistent with the strong evidence from clinical trials, our findings show that medications are indeed effective in increasing smokers’ chances of quitting when used in the real world.”

Results of the study found that people who did not use any NRT were generally younger, low-income and/or did not believe it would help them quit.

Ron Borland, PhD, Fellow in Cancer Prevention at the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, and co-author of the study said, “The major advance of this study is that we have been able to show that greater forgetting of unassisted failed attempts is the most likely reason other studies have not found a benefit for medication in population-based settings.”

“This finding should reassure clinicians and public health workers to continue to encourage the widespread use of medications.”

Dr. Hayland said, “Despite the benefit of using medications, many smokers still try to quit without help.”

“And even when medications are used, quitting smoking is hard, and relapses are common. Continued efforts are needed to develop and deliver more effective treatments to help smokers who want to quit.”

This study was published in August in Addiction. Funding for the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project comes from public health agencies and research centers from all over the world, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Cancer Society, no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 14, 2012
Last Updated:
August 15, 2012