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Nicotine patches do not help smokers to quit

NICOTINE patches do not help smokers to quit, a new study has found.

Six months after quitting, a fifth of people admitted smoking again and the rate was not significantly different if they had been given nicotine replacement therapy or not, the study found.

Researchers split 2,600 smokers into four groups.

The first received standard support in the form of stop smoking advice, letters, emails, text messages and access to a helpline. The second group received the same support but were 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.

Data was collected one month and six months after the participants had agreed to quit. The result showed, overall, 19pc of the 58pc of people who could be contacted at six months said they had managed not to smoke, and this was backed up with breath tests.


Those whom the researchers were not able to contact were assumed to still 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. Some 18.2pc of those given proactive support had quit compared with 19.6pc of those who did not receive this support.

Overall, 17.7pc of smokers offered the patches stopped smoking, compared to 20.1pc of those not offered them.

Even one month after setting a quit date, no significant differences were found between the groups.

The new study was published online in the British Medical Journal.