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Nicotine Replacement Can Help Smokers Quit Gradually

Those unable or reluctant to quit abruptly can be helped to taper off their habit

FRIDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers who are unwilling or unable to quit abruptly may still find nicotine replacement therapy useful as a means to gradually stop smoking, according to a study published online April 2 in BMJ.

David Moore, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., conducted a review of seven controlled randomized trials comprising 2,767 smokers who were given nicotine replacement therapy for six to 18 months. Four of the trials used nicotine replacement therapy gum, two used an inhaler, and one gave subjects a free choice. The primary outcome was smoking reduction, while cessation was a secondary outcome.

The overall rate of sustained abstinence for six months was 6.75 percent among those given therapy, twice that of the placebo group, the investigators found. Other cessation and reduction outcomes were also better in the treatment group compared to the placebo group. However, as most of the trials included behavioral support and monitoring, it is unclear what influence this may have had on the findings, the researchers comment. There were no statistically significant differences in adverse events.

"The importance of these trials is that they show that treating a population of smokers not ready to stop means more of them stop," the authors write. "Therefore it is important to examine how nicotine assisted reduction to stop can be incorporated into tobacco control programs."

One co-author reported receiving funds from McNeil (Helsinborg, Sweden), who sponsored the trials this study reviewed.

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