I was interested in reports of a research study suggesting that nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) were no more effective in helping smokers to quit their habits than simply going ‘cold turkey’. People had the same probabilities of relapsing into nicotine addiction even were they using NRTs even if they were receiving counseling to help break their addiction. Earlier studies have shown that most (2/3-3/4) of smokers quit without the aid of NRTs and that positive findings on NRTs tend to arise in studies funded by industry groups supporting the sale of such products.
Some claim that, while rates of smoking are continuing to decrease, that this decrease is itself tapering off. One reason could be that, although NRTs are becoming more readily available, are not working in the sense of yielding higher smoking quit rates. There are plenty of other explanations too.
As I have posted in the past one reason for the ineffectiveness of NRTs could be that there are non-nicotinic addicting compounds in cigarette smoke. In particular MAO inhibitors that are known to vary with the type of tobacco smoked – they are strongest in roll-your-own-tobaccos – may provide an additional addictive compound in cigarette smoke.
There is some way to go in this debate but, for sure, smoking control efforts should not rely entirely on NRTs. It is better to consume nicotine supplied as a pure drug that that arising as a toxic mix of tars and other poisons in cigarettes but it is obviously best to give nicotine a miss altogether. .
BTW drug companies selling NRTs have rushed in to discredit the results of the studies suggesting low NRT effectiveness.