July 14, 2008 -- Smoking-cessation drugs and many nicotine-replacement
therapies are more than twice as effective at helping smokers quit than going
A new analysis of 69 studies comparing seven different smoking-cessation
treatments shows six of the seven treatments were more effective than placebo
in helping smokers quit the habit for at least six months to a year.
But researchers say smoking-cessation therapies are underused because of
problems translating those results to the public and providing widespread
access to the treatments.
"We are confident that the recommended treatments will substantially
increase rates of smoking abstinence when given to smokers who wish to quit,"
researcher John Cunningham of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,
says in a news release.
For example, Cunningham says these results suggest that offering free
nicotine-replacement therapy to adults who want to quit smoking could provide
major public health benefits.
In the study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal,
researchers compared 69 clinical trials on smoking- cessation therapies
involving nearly 33,000 people.
The results showed six therapies were more effective than placebo at helping
smokers quit, including:
Chantix (2.4 times more effective than placebo)
Nicotine nasal spray (2.37)
Zyban (also known as Wellbutrin) (2.07)
Nicotine patch (2.07)
Nicotine tablet (2.06)
Nicotine gum (1.71)
Although the findings also favored the effectiveness of the nicotine inhaler
over placebo, the results were not conclusive.
In a related article in the same journal, Canadian researchers randomly
surveyed 825 smokers and asked them if they would be interested in receiving
free nicotine-replacement therapy and how they would use it. Nearly 60% of
smokers said they would be interested in receiving free nicotine-replacement
therapy, and 94% of the interested smokers said they would use it to quit
smoking for good.
In fact, researchers found smokers who were interested in quitting smoking
for good were more interested in using nicotine-replacement therapy than those
who planned to cut back or maintain their smoking habits.
Experts say these results suggest that new strategies to inform smokers who
want to quit about their options may be needed to improve use of
"Because of a powerful multinational tobacco industry, the need to prevent
death and disability from tobacco-related illnesses will not disappear,” writes
J. Taylor Hayes, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in a commentary in the same journal.
"However, we have effective treatments to assist smokers at their attempts to
live free of tobacco. The success of our efforts hinges on our ability to place
these products in the hands of people who need them."