Nicotine Therapy Isn’t Helping Anyone Quit Smoking, Says New Research

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: I am a smoker, and I am always trying to quit. But now, new research is saying that nicotine replacement therapy isn’t as effective as we’re led to believe and that at the end of the day, if you really want to stop smoking, you’re better off saving your money and doing it cold turkey.

The research: The Harvard University School of Public Health studied 787 adults in the state of Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking, and found that a third of those who quit relapsed over time. It made no difference whether they had practiced nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or not, it was a third for both parties. The lead author of the study, Hillel Alpert said this:

“This study shows that using NRT is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long term than trying to quit on one’s own,”

Interestingly enough, heavy heavy smokers were found to relapse twice as often as those who hadn’t used NRT. Weird, right?

“This may indicate that some heavily dependent smokers perceive NRT as a sort of ‘magic’ pill, and upon realising it is not, they find themselves without support in their quitting efforts, doomed to failure,” said the study.

This is bad news for the folks at Nicorette. The NRT industry is huge. When introduced in 1984, nicotine gum quickly became a $45 million industry. Since over-the-counter approval in 1996, the industry rose to heights of $800 million annually.

The response from the providers of NRT? GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of NicoDerm CQ patches and Nicorette gum are in denial, saying: “There remains strong support for NRT’s efficacy and its positive impact on public health.”

They further defended their comments, pointing to the World Health Organization, leading experts, and world governments who unanimously agree:

“…that NRT products have a crucial role to play in helping to reduce the devastating toll of disease caused by tobacco dependence […] numerous studies (that) show smokers who use NRT products per the dosing recommendations, combined with support, can double their chances of successfully quitting over ‘cold turkey'”.

Back to the drawing board for me.

Did you used to smoke? If so, how did you quit? Cold turkey or nicotine replacement therapy?