At four weeks, 22 percent of those who received counseling and nicotine replacement therapy had tried to stop smoking for a day, as did 13 percent of those who received counseling alone. At final follow-up after treatment was stopped, 49 percent of those who received nicotine replacement therapy had made an attempt to quit versus 40 percent of those given counseling alone, the researchers found.
"Compared to those who did not receive nicotine replacement therapy samples, those who did showed stronger motivation, higher confidence and more favorable attitudes towards nicotine replacement therapy," Carpenter said.
The study suggests nicotine replacement therapy could be marketed for trial use, which might be attractive to a greater number of smokers, he noted.
However, Edelman doesn't think this study went on long enough to draw any definitive conclusions. "The study had no long-term follow-up, thus lacking what I consider to be the gold standard of smoking-cessation experimentation," he said.
Two research letters published in the same journal issue drove home that point. In the first, G. David Batty, of University College London, England and colleagues followed up people who took part in the Whitehall Smoking Cessation Survey three decades ago.
In that study, about 1,450 men either received information on the dangers of smoking or no information. After 30 years, most of those still living had quit smoking -- 81 percent in the group that got counseling and 79 percent in the group that didn't, the investigators found.
In addition, the overall risk of death was slightly lower for people who received counseling; and while the difference was not statistically significant, it was about 0.4 life-years gained, the researchers said.
In the other letter, researchers looked at the benefit of not smoking in cutting the odds of dying young. The team led by Yin Cao, from the Harvard School of Public Health,
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