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Lung Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Description of the Evidence


Pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation

Many pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation, including nicotine replacement therapies (e.g., gum, patch, spray, lozenge, and inhaler) and other smoking cessation pharmacotherapies (e.g., varenicline and bupropion), result in statistically significant increases in smoking cessation rates compared with placebo. Based on a synthesis of the results of 110 randomized trials, nicotine replacement therapy treatments, alone or in combination, improve cessation rates over placebos after 6 months (RR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.50–1.66).[55] Since the AHCPR guidelines were published, additional evidence of the effectiveness of such pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation has been published.[56,57,58] The choice of therapy should be individualized based on a number of factors, including past experience, preference, and potential agent side effects. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Cigarette Smoking: Health Risks and How to Quit for more information on pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation.)

Population-level interventions

In addition to individually focused cessation efforts, a number of tobacco control strategies at the community, state, and national level have been credited with reducing the prevalence of smoking. Strategies include the following:[59,60]

  • Reducing minors' access to tobacco products.
  • Disseminating effective school-based prevention curricula together with media strategies.
  • Raising the cost of tobacco products by raising taxes.
  • Using tobacco excise taxes to fund community-level interventions including mass media.
  • Providing proven quitting strategies through health care organizations.
  • Adopting smoke-free laws and policies.

Smoke-free workplace legislation

A review of more than 50 studies found that smoke-free workplace legislation was consistently associated with reduced secondhand smoke exposure, whether measured in reduced time of exposure (71%–100% reduction) or prevalence of persons exposed to secondhand smoke (22%–85% reduction), with particularly marked reductions among hospitality workers.[61] Smoke-free workplace legislation was associated with consistent and statistically significant reductions in levels of nicotine, dust, benzene, and particulate matter. Health indicators including respiratory systems, sensory symptoms, and hospital admissions were reported as outcomes in 25 studies. With respect to health outcomes, a consistent finding was reduced hospital admissions for cardiac events. Evidence suggested that smoke-free workplace legislation may also result in reduced prevalence of active cigarette smoking; for example, one study observed a 32% decreased smoking prevalence in a county that enacted smoke-free workplace legislation compared with a 2.8% decrease in nearby counties with no smoke-free workplace legislation.

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