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Medications and Anti-Smoking Ads Effective in Helping People Quit

Update Date: May 31, 2013 11:34 AM EDT

Today is the annual World No Tobacco Day, a globally recognized day in which tobacco usage and advertisements are discouraged. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the world and several campaigns have attempted to find ways to encourage smokers to quit the nasty habit and adopt healthier lifestyles. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 68.8 percent of adult smokers stated that they wanted to quit. Two new reports found that licensed medications and anti-smoking advertisements are effective in helping people kick the habit.  

The first report, published in Cochrane Library looked at data from 267 studies, which involved 101,804 people. They found that the three medications, which include nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), antidepressant drug bupropion and the drug varenicline, are effective in helping people curb smoking. These drugs are currently used in the United States and Europe and work by prohibiting the effects of nicotine in the brain. After an extensive review, the researchers believe that people who took these drugs as opposed to placebos had a higher success rate of quitting. The researchers defined success as quitting for at least six months.

The researchers stated that people were 80 percent more likely to quit when they used one NRT, which includes nicotine patches, gums and inhalers or when they took bupropion in comparison to people on the placebo. People taking only varenicline were 50 percent more likely to quit when compared to people taking one NRT. The team found that people who took varenicline with one NRT were two to three times more likely to quit when compared to the placebo group.

"This review provides strong evidence that the three main treatments...can all help people to stop smoking," lead researcher, Kate Cahill from the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, said. "Although cytisine is not currently licensed for smoking cessation in most of the world, these data suggest it has the potential as an effective and affordable therapy." Cytisine is used in Russia and other Eastern European nations, and has a similar effect as varenicline.

The second report conducted by the CDC found that for 14 out of 17 countries, anti-smoking advertisements, which range from television to billboards, are effective in helping people quit. The CDC administered the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), which recorded people's awareness of these types of advertisements and their effects on people's intent to stop smoking. There was a total of 265, 564 interviewees and 50,209 of them were active smokers with 10,439 of them stated that they planned to quit. This report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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