A Moment of Science

No Easier Path to Smoking Cessation

A new study shows quitters using nicotine replacement therapy are just as likely to relapse as those who stop smoking cold turkey.

Cigarette

Photo: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr)

There it is, your last one. Don't look back!

Maybe 2012 will be the big year — the year you finally dump cigarettes for good.

Just think of all the money you’ll save, all the youthful vim and vigor you’ll recover, all the years you’ll add to your life. Plus, with so much effort going into government-sponsored stop-smoking initiatives and so many gums, patches and inhalers available over the counter, kicking the habit has never been easier.

Well, actually, that last bit about the gums and patches might not be right after all.

NRTs’ Disappointing Performance

According to a survey of more than 700 quitters conducted by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and University of Massachusetts Boston, roughly a third of respondents relapsed.

This is hardly surprising since, as everyone knows, overcoming nicotine addiction is extremely difficult. What is surprising, however, is that respondents who made use of nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like Nicorette or Nicoderm were no more successful on average than those who quit cold turkey.

In other words, you may be just as well off on your own. You may even be better off considering the sticker price of many of these pharmaceutical regimens.

Disclaimer

We would do well to keep a couple of things in mind here. First, this is just one study. Future efforts may yield different results.

Second (and most importantly), when attempting personal changes as ambitious and consequential as quitting smoking, it’s important to get as much information and help as possible. Go online and do some research. Talk to friends who’ve left cigarettes in the dust long ago. Talk to your doctor.

Good luck. You can do it. 2012 is the year.

Read More:

  • Nicotine replacement therapies may not be effective in helping people quit smoking (PhysOrg.com)
  • Nicotine replacement therapy is over-promoted since most ex-smokers quit unassisted (PhysOrg.com)
  • SmokeFree.gov
Ben Alford

Ben Alford works in Indiana Public Media's online dimension and holds an M.A. from Indiana University Bloomington's History and Philosophy of Science department. When not vegetating in front of a computer screen or geeking out over a good book, he can be found outside exploring.

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