Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death nationwide. Several prescription and over-the-counter medications can help smokers quit. But which ones are best? Few studies have compared their effectiveness.
To compare medications, NIH-funded researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied over 1,500 smokers who wanted to quit. The smokers were randomly assigned to receive different medications or no medication for up to 3 months.
The researchers found that people taking the nicotine patch plus the nicotine lozenge had the best success. About 40% of them were
still smoke-free 6 months after their quit date.
About 33% of patients remained smoke-free when they’d taken other medications, like the nicotine patch or nicotine lozenge alone, the prescription drug bupropion (Zyban), or a combination of the nicotine lozenge plus bupropion. Only 22% of those taking no medications were still smoke-free at 6 months.
The researchers didn’t look at other common quit-smoking aids, including nasal sprays, inhalers and nicotine gum. They also didn’t evaluate the medication varenicline (Chantix) because it hadn’t yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the
study began. More research will be needed to see what medications work best to help smokers quit.
Many effective strategies—with or without medications—can help you quit smoking. They include setting a quit date and getting support from others. To learn more about quitting for good, visit www.smokefree.gov, or call 1-800-QUITNOW.