New Review Advocates for More Counseling to Help Smokers Quit

Varenicline and counseling shown to be effective smoking cessation therapies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Finding the best way to quit smoking is not easy. But several treatments were associated with high quitting rates in a recent study.

Recent research found that bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) worked as well as nicotine replacement treatment to help people quit smoking, but varenicline (brand name Chantix) worked even better. Counseling depressed patients and pregnant women who were trying to quit smoking increased their chances of success.

"Seek medical advice about smoking cessation therapies."

The lead author on the review by the Cochrane Collaboration was Jamie Hartmann-Boyce from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Review Group examined scientific studies published in 2013 to determine the effectiveness of smoking cessation treatments.

Studies showed that bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patches, sprays or lozenges) both increased the smoking quit rate at six months by about 60 percent — compared to smokers who did not use these methods.

If more than one form of nicotine replacement was used, the quit rate was greater than using bupropion alone or using just one form of nicotine replacement.

The quit rate of people who used varenicline, a medicine used to help patients quit smoking, was about twice that of people who did not use the medicine.

When depressed patients who were already using methods to quit smoking also had counseling for managing their moods, their long-term smoking quit rates increased.

Likewise, pregnant women who were trying to quit smoking had better success if they also had counseling. Counseling for pregnant women was also associated with fewer low birth weight babies.

The report also found that smoking prevention programs in schools could decrease smoking rates after one year.

The review found that naltrexone, antidepressants in the class called serotonin reuptake inhibitors and St. John’s wort did not increase smoking quit rates.

“Given that the mechanism of action of antidepressants for smoking cessation has yet to be determined, further research is needed," the study authors wrote.

The authors also noted the need for continued data collection on the side effects of medicines used to quit smoking.

The Cochrane Update was published in the August issue of Addiction.

The National Institute for Health Research is the primary funding source for the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Review Group. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 22, 2014
Last Updated:
August 25, 2014