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Quitting smoking may require longer use of smoking cessation treatments

September 02, 2010
  • Smoking cessation treatments are sometimes stopped too soon.
Smoking cessation treatments are sometimes stopped too soon. (David Gray / Reuters )

Many people who try to quit smoking use a smoking cessation treatment, such as a medication or counseling. Those treatments may take time and some failure before successful quitting is achieved, say the authors of a new study. But doctors may discontinue the cessation treatment too soon.

Researchers at Oregon Health Science University followed smokers who were trying to quit over a 12-week period. The study participants were using either the drug varenicline, the drug bupropion or counseling alone to help them quit. The study found two types of quitters: those who quit immediately and remained abstinent and those who kept smoking initially but eventually achieved abstinence.

Patients, and the doctors assisting them, may lose confidence in a treatment cessation strategy if a smoker has not quit by the recommended target date, or "quit date," or if the patient is unable to remain completely abstinent in the early weeks of treatment, the authors said. However, the study showed that about 45% of the smokers who ultimately quit by the end of a 12-week treatment program had smoked in the early weeks of treatment or had had relapses.

Although the delayed quitters were not as successful, overall, as the people who quit immediately and stayed abstinent, they still accounted for one-third of the smokers who were abstinent one year later.

"Our data support continuing cessation treatments without interruption for smokers motivated to remain in the quitting process despite lack of success early in the treatment," the authors wrote.

The study was published online Thursday in the journal Addiction.
-- Shari Roan / Los Angeles Times

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