Nicotine replacement therapy may be appropriate for gradual as well as abrupt attempts to give up smoking, according to Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.
Nicotine gum has been in use for over 20 years to help smokers quit abruptly yet close to two-thirds of smokers report that they would prefer to quit gradually.
"This is the first study to demonstrate that smokers wanting to quit by gradual reduction can substantially increase their success by using nicotine gum to facilitate reduction and cessation," the researchers wrote in the February 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
How the study was conducted
Almost 3 300 smokers from across the United States participated in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study. They were allowed to choose between 2mg and 4mg doses of nicotine gum, with the higher doses generally being selected by heavier smokers. Within each dose group, participants were then randomised to receive either the active gum or a placebo, yielding four approximately equal groups.
The odds of smokers achieving 24-hour abstinence were 40 to 90% higher using active gum compared to placebo, and 2 to 4.7 times higher for attaining 28-day abstinence.
At the end of 6 months, while absolute quit rates were somewhat low, the odds of quitting were about 2 to 6 times greater for active gum users as for the placebo users, with a quit rate of 6% in the 4mg group.
The study also evaluated the safety of using nicotine gum while reducing smoking. The authors report that no unexpected adverse events were observed, even among those who most heavily smoked and used gum, concluding that "using nicotine gum while smoking carries little to no incremental risk."
"The advantage of active nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) treatment is particularly evident for heavy smokers treated with the 4-mg nicotine gum, for which treatment increased the odds of quitting for 6 months six-fold," the researchers wrote.
(EurekAlert, January 2009)
Stop smoking Centre