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Nicotine Replacement Treatments May Not Work Long-Term

Relapse Rates Still High in Those Who Used Nicotine Replacement, Experts Say

Professor: ‘We Shouldn’t Over-Emphasize Nicotine Replacement Therapy'

Steven Schroeder MD, professor of medicine and director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

"It's a useful reminder that there are many ways to help smokers quit and we shouldn't over-emphasize nicotine replacement therapy," he tells WebMD.

However, he sees some limitations to the study. He questions whether more participants were needed to find the true effects of the medication with or without counseling.

Another limitation, he says, is that few took the treatment as recommended.

His bottom line: "I tell [smokers] it's important to quit. Some do it cold turkey. But data show if you get counseling and one or more of the medications, it will increase your chances of quitting long-term." He is referring to previous studies showing that the combination approach helps people quit.

The study is ''seriously biased," says Saul Shiffman, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and a longtime researcher in the field. He serves as a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline, which markets the nicotine replacement products Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ.

He, too, cites the limited use of the products as a problem. He believes clinical trials, such as those that compare using the medications to not using them, give a truer picture. Numerous clinical trials, he says, ''show that these medications double your chances of quitting."

Nicotine Replacement: Industry Weigh-In

''When it comes to smoking cessation, there is no 'magic pill,’'' says Deborah Bolding, a spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline, in an emailed statement to WebMD.

She cites ''hundreds of clinical trials'' showing the products work when used as directed. NRT products, she writes, have ''helped millions of smokers quit by gradually weaning them off their tobacco addiction and [the approach] is recommended as a [primary] therapy for quitting."

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