Nicotine patches and intensive counselling do not help people quit smoking, researchers from the University of Nottingham have discovered.
"On the basis of this study, giving out free nicotine patches and more intensive telephone counselling through the English national quitline just doesn't seem to work," the BBC quoted Professor Tim Coleman of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies as saying.
Researchers had conducted a study on more than 2,500 people. These volunteers were split into four groups. The first group received standard support in the form of NHS Stop Smoking Services advice, letters, emails, text messages and access to a helpline. The second group received the same support but was also offered free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of a 21-day supply of patches. The third group received "proactive support" in the form of standard support plus extra counselling sessions and messages from helpline staff. The fourth group received the same proactive support as the third group but with added free nicotine patches, according to the BBC report.
After six months, the researchers found that overall 19 per cent of the 58 per cent of people, who could be contacted, said they had managed not to smoke. The rest of them - whom the researchers were not able to contact - were assumed to be smoking.
The study found no significant difference in success rates between those people offered different types of supportive counselling or between those given nicotine replacement therapy. Among the 2,500 people only some 18 per cent of those given proactive support had quit, compared to those who did not receive this support. Overall, 18 per cent of smokers who were offered the patches stopped smoking, compared with 20 per cent of those not offered them.
Even one month after setting a quit date, no significant differences were found between the groups.
Professor Tim Coleman, from Nottingham, who led the study, said: "I think the results highlight just how hard it is for most people to break their addiction to tobacco and just how powerful and damaging a drug this is," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Coleman as saying.