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Cancer Health Center

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Cigarette Smoking: Health Risks and How to Quit (PDQ®): Prevention - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Evidence of Benefit


The Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation (COMMIT) was a National Cancer Institute-funded large-scale study to assess a combination of community-based interventions designed to help smokers cease using tobacco. COMMIT involved 11 matched pairs of communities in North America, which were randomly assigned to an arm offering an active community-wide intervention or a control arm (no active intervention).[9] The 4-year intervention included messaging through existing media channels, major community organizations, and social institutions capable of influencing smoking behavior in large groups of people. The interventions were implemented in each community through a local community board that provided oversight and management of COMMIT activities.

In COMMIT, there was no difference in the mean quit rate of heavy-smokers in the intervention communities (18.0%) compared with the control communities (18.7%). The light-to-moderate smoker quit rates were statistically significantly different: averages of 30.6% and 27.5% for the intervention and control communities, respectively (P = .004). Although no significant differences in quit rates between the sexes were observed, less-educated light-to-moderate smokers were more responsive to the intervention than were college-educated smokers with a light-to-moderate habit.[10,11]

Clinical interventions targeted at individuals have shown more promising results. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials shows that 6-month cessation rates are significantly improved with use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products compared with placebo or no intervention (summary relative risk [RR], 1.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.50-1.66).[12] The benefits of nicotine replacement therapy product use have been consistently observed regardless of whether the product used was the patch, gum, nasal spray, inhaler, or lozenge.[12] Smoking cessation counseling alone is also effective;[13] even a brief intervention by a health care professional significantly increases the smoking cessation rate.[14]

An important issue is whether pharmacotherapies are more effective in the presence of counseling. A randomized trial compared the following three levels of intervention that combined free pharmacotherapy (nicotine patch or bupropion) with or without counseling: 1) pharmacotherapy alone; 2) pharmacotherapy plus up to two counseling sessions every 6 months; and 3) pharmacotherapy plus up to six counseling sessions every 6 months. During the 24-month study, each group was offered a randomly assigned intervention at baseline, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months later. For the primary study endpoint of 7-day point prevalence of smoking abstinence after 24 months of follow-up, no statistically significant differences were observed among the interventions.[15] The results of this study suggest that the combination of pharmacotherapy plus counseling is no better than intervention alone.

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