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Preemptive Patch Use Improves Quitting Odds

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Most smokers slap on a nicotine patch only after they quit, but a new study finds that the odds of successfully quitting are improved if users start with the patch two weeks before they smoke their last cigarette.

The Los Angeles Times reported July 9 that researchers at Duke University found that smokers who began using the patch early cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoked prior to quitting.

The research found that 22 percent of smokers who began using the patch two weeks prior to quitting remained abstinent for 10 weeks, compared to 11 percent of a control group given a placebo patch. The study authors speculated that early patch use made it easier to quit smoking because the patch was already meeting some of the smokers' nicotine needs.

Health officials and patch makers warn smokers not to use the device while still smoking, out of concern about nicotine overdoses.

The study, which was conducted by one of the inventors of the nicotine patch and funded by a grant from Philip Morris, was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

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