Nicotine Replacement Therapy Doesn't Avert Smoking Relapse

Likelihood of relapse unaffected by nicotine replacement therapy, with or without counseling

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- For individuals who have quit smoking, use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) may not impact relapse rates, according to a meta-analysis published online Jan. 10 in Tobacco Control.

Hillel R. Alpert, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues investigated the population effectiveness of NRT, with or without professional counseling. The prospective cohort study was carried out in three waves on 787 adult smokers who had recently quit. There was a 46 percent baseline response rate, and follow-up was completed with 56 and 68 percent of the cohort at waves two and three, respectively. The association between relapse to smoking at follow-up and use of assistance (NRT with or without professional counseling) was assessed.

The investigators found that, at each wave, almost one-third of recent quitters reported relapse by the next interview. The likelihood of relapse was unaffected by the use of NRT for more than six weeks, with or without counseling (P = 0.117 and 0.159, respectively). The likelihood of relapse was highest for previously heavily dependent individuals who reported any duration of NRT without professional counseling (odds ratio, 2.68).

"The findings of this study cast doubt on the relative effectiveness of NRT as a population strategy and on the expectations of the effects on smoking prevalence of providing cessation services to individuals," the authors write.

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