Using nicotine patches or prescription medication helps smokers quit, a new international study concludes. Previous studies have produced conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of smoking cessation aids in real-life settings, according to Reuters.
The study of more than 7,400 smokers found those who used some smoking cessation treatments were four to six times more successful in quitting, compared with those who tried to quit on their own. About 2,200 of the smokers in the study used a prescription drug or nicotine replacement therapy to help them stop smoking.
Among smokers who did not use any medication, 5 percent were able to stay smoke free for at least six months, compared with 18 percent of those using nicotine patches, 15 percent of those using the antidepressant buproprion (Wellbutrin) and 19 percent who used varenicline (Chantix).
The researchers took into effect how long and how heavily participants smoked, and concluded that buproprion and the nicotine patch were associated with a four-fold increase in quitting rates, compared with those who used no medication. They found varenicline was associated with an almost six-fold increase in quitting success.
“The disappointing reality is that even when people use these medications to help them quit, relapse is still the norm. It’s better than nothing, but it’s by no means a magic bullet,” lead researcher Karin Kasza of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo told Reuters.
The study appears in the journal Addiction.