For the study, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Boston followed 787 adult smokers in Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking. They asked whether the participants had used a nicotine replacement therapy – including nicotine patches, gum, inhalers or nasal sprays – to help them quit, and if they had, for how long. Participants were also asked if they had received help from a quit-smoking program, doctor, counselor or other professional.
What did the study show? Almost one third of quitters relapsed. And the relapse rate was the same for those who used nicotine therapies for more than six weeks and those who didn’t – with or without professional counseling. Whether the participants were heavy or light smokers made no difference either on the therapies’ effectiveness.
“This study shows that using NRT is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long-term than trying to quit on one’s own,” study co-author Hillel Alpert, a research scientist at Harvard Medical School said in a written statement.