Smoking is linked to several serious to deadly medical conditions including lung cancer, lung disease, heart attack and stroke; so medical authorities often recommend that people who smoke should quit. Unfortunately, nicotine addiction makes quitting smoking difficult, so nicotine treatment therapies, such as nicotine patches, have become a popular tool to quit smoking.
The essay by Simon Chapman and Ross MacKenzie from the School of Public Heath in the University of Sydney, Australia, was published in PloS Medicine. According to the researchers, the most successful smoking cessation method is quitting 'cold turkey.' Instead of recommending a drug based therapy to quit smoking, heath authorities should emphasize the positive message that unassisted smoking cessation is the most successful method of quitting.
The study authors report that overemphasis on medical quit methods, like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has led to the ' "medicalisation of smoking cessation," NRT is often recommend is spite of evidence that the most successful method used by most ex-smokers is quitting "cold turkey" or cutting back and then quitting.
The researchers reviewed 511 studies published in 2007 and 2008. According to the study authors the studies repeatedly showed that two-thirds to three-quarters of ex-smokers stop unaided and most ex-smokers report that cessation was less difficult than expected.
Smokers may not need to resort to costly NRT to stop smoking. Of course, if NRT is successful, it is well worth the price. On the other hand, if people feel they cannot afford NRT, they may delay their efforts to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking 'cold turkey' may be more successful and less expensive than using a medically based program. Smokers may also like the feeling that they are not dependent upon a pharmaceutical solution for smoking cessation.
The study authors concluded that medical professionals should restore some balance in public awareness of the possibility of quitting smoking without NRT.
Resource: EurekAlert: Public Library of Science; Nicotine replacement therapy is over-promoted since most ex-smokers quit unassisted, 8-Feb-2010
Written by Christine Nyholm