Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy to Assist in Reducing Cigarette Consumption before Quitting: Another Strategy for Smoking Cessation?
Stopping smoking is the most important action that all smokers can take to improve their current and future health. Current smoking cessation treatments produce only modest long-term abstinence rates, and so new cessation methods are required if more smokers are to quit and to avoid relapse. Although most smokers want to quit, only a third make an attempt each year; however, many smokers are interested in reducing their cigarette consumption, and approximately 50% try this approach each year. Such a reduction has questionable health gains; however, it can result in an increase in the likelihood of making a quit attempt and stopping smoking. Results from randomized, placebo-controlled trials in smokers who were not motivated to quit at the time have demonstrated that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) effectively assists cigarette reduction and, subsequently, helps a small proportion of smokers to eventually quit. Complete smoking cessation remains the ultimate goal, but an NRT-aided reduction strategy may provide a helpful alternative to smokers who want to change their smoking behavior but are not yet ready to stop.
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