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Nicotine Replacement May Help Smokers Quit Gradually
Date:4/3/2009

But products' use in U.S. to help people cut back remains controversial,,

FRIDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- For smokers who want to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke, using nicotine replacement therapy not only helps them smoke less but makes it twice as likely that they will quit altogether, British researchers report.

Although using nicotine replacement therapy -- such as gum, inhalers, patches and lozenges -- as a way to reduce smoking is approved in Britain and other countries, it remains unapproved and controversial in the United States. Some think it sends the wrong message -- that cutting down on smoking is OK. Others think that because tobacco companies make other nicotine delivery devices, this approach is merely a boon to the tobacco industry.

"We looked at papers that took people who said, 'I don't want to stop smoking, but I am prepared to reduce my smoking,' " said lead researcher Dr. Paul Aveyard, from the School of Health and Population Sciences at the University of Birmingham. They were given either a nicotine replacement product or a placebo, "and twice as many in the active treatment groups quit smoking compared with the placebo side," he said.

The results are similar to studies on the use of nicotine replacement therapy among people who said they wanted to quit.

In addition, Aveyard said, there were no serious adverse effects from the use of nicotine replacement while people continued to smoke.

The findings were published online April 3 in BMJ.

For the study, Aveyard's team reviewed seven studies that compared the use of nicotine gum or inhalators with placebos to see which was more effective in gradually getting smokers to quit. The studies included a total of 2,767 people.

Over six to 18 months, 6.75 percent of those using nicotine replacement stopped smoking for six months -- double the proportion of those using placebos. The res
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