A recent prospective cohort study showed that smokers do not stand any higher of a chance to quit smoking by using replacement products than if they stopped cold turkey. The chance of taking up smoking again did not seem to be any lower in those using cigarette replacement products than in people who had quit using nothing. Patches and gum seem to lend no assistance to smokers who were trying to quit. In addition, those who also received counseling by a health professional in conjunction with the stop smoking aids were also unaffected by the products.
The biggest problem for people who have quit smoking is eventual relapse and the study showed that the stop smoking aids offered no help in that area. People who relapsed after quitting smoking on their own and people who had used these products were about the same in number. This has raised major doubts in the medical community regarding the use of these cessation medications. These aids have been sold over the counter for almost two decades and have been suggested by the Department of Health and Human Services for just as long. This was based on data received in very short term studies performed at the onset of the product releases.
The decline in the amount of people who actually smoke has evened out after the past several years. However, the ratio of people who have quit smoking as compared to those who have never started has remained quite the same over the years that stop smoking aids have been available. The recent study involved phone interviews of about 6,800 adults over a two year period, conducted in Massachusetts.
During the first interviews that occurred from 2001 to 2002, over 750 people said they had quit smoking at some point during the past two years. However, these people were revisited in the years of 2003 through 2004 and some 60% had relapsed. Additionally, 68% of those people who had been interviewed again during the second round reported that they were now smokers again. Only 22% of these people had claimed the use of stop smoking aids for a period of 6 weeks or less; 7 and a half percent for longer than 6 weeks.
Upon further research the risk of relapse was significantly higher in those individuals who had smoked heavily and for a good number of years and had received no help from professionals. Heavy smokers were defined in the study by those who had reported smoking their first cigarette of the day within thirty minutes of rising and who smoked at least one pack a day.
The lowest risk of smoking relapse was found in people who had remained cigarette free for at least six months. In both of these groups, there seemed to be no data to suggest that smoking cessation medications had an impact on the numbers at all. The biggest number of people found who had quit smoking permanently had been in people who had smoked for less than 5 years of their lives.