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Nicotine Patches May Help Smokers Recover From Relapse

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Using a nicotine patch may help smokers who are trying to quit recover from a relapse, a new study suggests.

Two recent studies have indicated that continuing to use nicotine patches following a lapse (which can mean smoking only a single cigarette) may be an effective way to prevent people from returning to smoking, researchers from the University of Tasmania note in the journal Addiction. However, until now no study that uses approved doses of nicotine patches under real-world conditions has tested this hypothesis.

The researchers reanalyzed data from a past study on smoking cessation, which compared smokers who used a nicotine patch to those who used a placebo patch. They focused on 509 people who tried quitting smoking and relapsed during the third to fifth week of treatment, Reuters reports.

The study found lapsed smokers who used a real nicotine patch were more likely than those using a placebo patch to be smoke free again by the sixth to tenth week of treatment. During the sixth week, 8 percent of smokers using the nicotine patch recovered, compared with less than 1 percent of those using the placebo patch.

The article notes the study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the Nicoderm CQ patch and other nicotine replacement products. The researchers serve as consultants to the company.

Hillel R. Alpert, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Global Tobacco Control, told Reuters the study does not provide data about the effectiveness of the nicotine patch in keeping people smoke free over the long term.

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