MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine patches and nicotine gum -- the popular mainstays of so-called "nicotine replacement therapy" -- don't help many smokers kick the habit and remain cigarette-free over the long haul, new research suggests.
This conclusion is based on results of several surveys conducted among nearly 800 adult smokers that revealed that those who used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) did not gain any advantage over non-users in terms of relapse rates.
This observation held up among both heavy and light smokers, regardless of whether or not nicotine replacement therapy was accompanied by professional cessation counseling.
"Even though other well-controlled studies have shown that nicotine replacement therapy can be effective, our study looked at real-world use over the long-term," said study lead author Hillel Alpert, a research scientist with the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Global Tobacco Control in Boston. "And in the real world, cigarettes are simply a very powerful addiction. And NRT is apparently not an effective replacement for that addiction."
Alpert and his colleagues published their findings in the Jan. 9 online edition of Tobacco Control. The research was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The study authors noted that an estimated 70 percent of smokers interviewed said they wanted to quit, and more than 45 percent said they made an effort to do so in the past year.
The researchers looked at the experiences of nearly 800 Massachusetts residents who had recently quit smoking before enrolling in the study.
During three two-year "waves" (starting in 2001 and ending in 2006), each of the participants was asked about any nicotine replacement therapy use, which in addition to patches or gums could also include nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays. All were also asked if they had received counse
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