Smokers who want to stop smoking are three times
more likely to succeed if they see a trained advisor than if they try by
themselves, according to a new study published online in the medical journal Addiction.
buying nicotine patches, gum or other licensed nicotine products from a shop
does not seem to improve the chances of quitting.This is the first study using population-based survey data
that has been large enough to assess the real-world effectiveness of using Britain's National Health Service (NHS) stop-smoking services compared with quitting
The study uses data from a very large ongoing UK research
programme that has been surveying smokers and recent ex-smokers since 2007.
The study published in Addiction
analyses survey responses from more than 10 000 people in England who had
tried to quit smoking in the prior 12 months, to discover what methods of
quitting had the highest success rates.
Aid vs. no aid The study shows not only that stop smoking services are
smokers' best bet for stopping, but also that smokers may not be benefiting in
the way they should from buying over-the-counter nicotine replacement
estimate that smokers who use a combination of specialist behavioural support
together with a stop smoking medicine or nicotine product in their quit
attempts have approximately three times the odds of success than those who stop
smoking without any aid.
But on the flip side, smokers who buy nicotine replacement
therapy over-the-counter with no contact with a health professional have
similar odds of success as those who stop without any aid. This is particularly relevant at a time when the number of
people using stop smoking services is falling and several million smokers buy
nicotine replacement therapies over-the-counter each year.
Professor Robert West from University College London, who
led the team of researchers, said: 'When you think that stopping smoking saves
6 hours of life for every day of smoking avoided, investing an hour or two over
a 6 week period to see an NHS stop smoking advisor seems like a good
They can provide cheaper medicine than is available in shops and
advise how to use it properly. It's crazy that not all smokers who want to stop
do it. As far as nicotine products bought from shops are concerned, there is an
urgent need to understand what is going on because we know that if these
products are used properly they can be effective.'