Nicotine therapy doesn't help quitters

2012-01-09 20:47

Washington - Gums, patches and nasal sprays that supply smokers with nicotine do not help people quit cigarettes over the long term any better than going it alone, said a US study on Monday.

The research by the Harvard University School of Public Health followed 787 adults in the state of Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking, and found that over time just as many relapsed after nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as without - about a third.

"This study shows that using NRT is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long term than trying to quit on one's own," said lead author Hillel Alpert, a research scientist at Harvard.

Study participants were surveyed over three time periods: 2001-2002, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006.

Not only were relapse rates about the same among those who used NRT and those who did not, the study found that heavily dependent smokers who took NRT without professional therapy were twice as likely to relapse as those who did not use NRT.

"This may indicate that some heavily dependent smokers perceive NRT as a sort of 'magic' pill, and upon realising it is not, they find themselves without support in their quitting efforts, doomed to failure," said the study in the journal Tobacco Control.

Although previous randomised controlled studies have shown NRT to be effective in helping smokers quit, the latest research shows the weakness of those trials among the general population in a real-life setting, the authors argued.

The study also showed that very few people follow the recommendations of using NRT for eight weeks, with many opting for shorter periods of use.

One in five smoke

The NRT industry has boomed since nicotine gum was first introduced in 1984, according to background information in the article. Back then, NRT products were a $45m industry in the United States.

Since over-the-counter sales of NRT were approved in 1996, the industry has boomed to $800m per year. On top of that, sales of prescription drugs to stop smoking reached $841m in 2007.

More public funds are also helping to subsidise stop-smoking therapies to low-income Americans, with 39 state Medicaid programmes covering one or more kinds of NRT in 2011, compared to 17 states in 1996.

Meanwhile, rates of smoking in the United States have levelled off at about 20% of the population in the past five years after a steady period of decline.

"What this study shows is the need for the Food and Drug Administration... to approve only medications that have been proven to be effective in helping smokers quit in the long-term and to lower nicotine in order to reduce the addictiveness of cigarettes," said co-author Gregory Connolly, director of Harvard's Centre for Global Tobacco Control.

Read more on:    us  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.