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Stop-smoking programs show success in helping smokers quit

November 28, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Two studies show that smoking-cessation programs appear to work.
Two studies show that smoking-cessation programs appear to work. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty…)

Getting smokers to quit can be tough, but two studies reporting success with smoking-cessation programs released Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine offer some hope.

One study focused on using a practice quit-attempt program and nicotine therapy for smokers who weren't motivated to quit. Researchers worked with 849 people in a randomized trial; participants were assigned to a six-week practice quit-attempt program or a program that also included sampling nicotine lozenges to increase the impetus to quit. While attempting to quit, smokers spoke to counselors by phone and received support information designed to make them more motivated and boost their self-assurance and coping skills.

Both groups had success in attempting to quit smoking: 85% of those in the practice program and 82% of those who also had the nicotine therapy made at least one attempt to quit. Four weeks after the program ended, 13% of those in the practice group and 22% of those who also had nicotine therapy attempted to quit for 24 hours. After 12 weeks, those numbers were 23% and 32%. At the six-month mark, 40% of the practice group and 49% of those who also had nicotine therapy had made a quit attempt.

The other study compared an eight-week usual care stop-smoking program with a year-long telephone-based chronic disease management program. In the first part of the study, 443 smokers had five phone calls with counselors and nicotine therapy for four weeks. They were then randomly assigned to the shorter program and received two more phone calls, or to the longer program that included more counseling and nicotine therapy for another 48 weeks.

At 18 months, rates of six-month smoking abstinence were 23.5% in the usual care group and 30.2% in the long-term care group. Those in the long-term group also made many more attempts to quit than those in the usual care group.

And among those who didn't quit, more people in the long-term group reduced their smoking compared with those in the usual care group at one year.

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