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Two-Pronged Program Looks Best for Helping Smokers Quit

Behavioral counseling plus medication beats other strategies

FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of counseling and medication greatly increases smokers' chances of quitting, according to new research published in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The study included 1,560 adult smokers in England who made at least one attempt to quit over six months. Of these participants, 44.5 percent used no aids to help them quit, while 4.8 percent used prescription medication (nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion or varenicline) in combination with behavioral counseling. Another 20.8 percent used prescription medication with brief advice, and 29.9 percent used over-the-counter nicotine replacement products.

After six months, 23 percent of the participants were no longer smoking. Those who used the medication/counseling method were nearly three times more likely to quit than those who did not use medication or counseling. Taking a prescription medication with brief advice was also more effective than unaided attempts to quit. However, smokers who used over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy with no counseling had a reduced success rate.

"The results clearly show that the combination of prescription medication with behavioral support is the most successful method. More smokers should be guided towards these forms of treatment," researcher Daniel Kotz, Ph.D., from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.

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