Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Combined nicotine replacement therapy provides best chance of smoking cessation

A federally funded study that compared five different medication strategies to help people stop smoking concluded that the combination of a nicotine patch and a nicotine lozenge was the most effective strategy.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin enrolled 1,504 adults in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants admitted to the 8-week intervention smoked at least 10 cigarettes (half a pack) per day. They were randomly assigned to one of six therapies: nicotine lozenge, nicotine patch, or bupropion (Zyban) alone, or the patch plus lozenge, bupropion plus lozenge, or placebo. (Another commonly used medication, varenicline [Chantix], was not included.) All participants also received six individual counseling sessions.

The researchers assessed smoking rates one week, eight weeks, and six months after participants' quit dates. Although all medication strategies made it more likely than placebo that participants would stop smoking, the combination of a nicotine patch and the lozenge worked best. Participants receiving this combination who eventually relapsed took longer to do so, on average, than participants who relapsed while on the other treatments.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »