Providing extra support for smokers who call a hotline to help them quit does not appear to improve cessation rates.
A new study finds that smokers who called a smoking cessation hotline and were offered free nicotine replacement or additional counseling did not have any greater success in quitting smoking than those who just received standard counseling from the hotline.
The study included more than 2,500 smokers, who were followed up over one year, the BBC reports. They were divided into four groups. One received standard support from the British National Health Service smoking cessation services. This included advice, letters, emails, text messages and access to a helpline.
A second group received these services, plus a 21-day supply of free nicotine replacement patches. A third group received the standard services, plus extra counseling sessions and messages from the hotline staff. The fourth group received standard services, nicotine patches and extra counseling.
All participants were followed up after one month, and again after six months. The researchers found no significant difference in success rates among the four groups. Overall, 19 percent of the smokers who were contacted six months later were smoke-free.
“This important trial has shed useful light on how telephone quitlines can be used to help smokers wanting to quit,” lead researcher Professor Tim Coleman of the University of Nottingham’s UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies said in a news release. “I think the results highlight just how hard it is for most people to break their addiction to tobacco and just how powerful and damaging a drug this is.”
The findings appear in the British Medical Journal.