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Trying to Quit: Nicotine Patches and Gums Don't Work

By HERWriter Guide
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Stop Smoking related image Photo: Getty Images

Some of us have slain the dragon known as nicotine. It's as addictive as street drugs and can be just as deadly, even if death is slow. For many, the death is slow, but sure.

According to the CDC, an estimated 443,000 people in America die every year from smoking-related illnesses and an additional 8.6 people live with health conditions that are smoking related.

Illnesses that are caused by smoking include lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, mouth and throat cancers (and many other kinds of cancers), stroke and heart disease.

According to the National Lung Cancer Partnership, the leading cause of lung cancer is smoking. There are more than 220,000 diagnoses of lung cancer every year in America.

EmpowHER's Lung Cancer page advises that symptoms of lung cancer include:

■ A cough that doesn't go away and worsens over time
■ Constant chest pain
■ Coughing up blood
■ Shortness of breath, wheezing, or hoarseness
■ Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis
■ Swelling of the neck and face
■ Loss of appetite or weight loss
■ Fatigue

The journal Tobacco Control published information this week about a comprehensive study (done by Harvard’s Center for Global Tobacco Control) of nicotine aids and their success in getting people to quit smoking.

Nicotine patches and gums have long been touted as very helpful to people trying to stop smoking but most of the information was garnered from people over short periods of time and as many smokers know, successfully quitting can take months or years.

This new study included almost 2,000 people, nearly 800 of those people having just quit smoking. Subjects were followed over the course of several years.

Each subject was interviewed every two years over a period of six years and one third had relapsed at every two year interval. The final results showed that these aids did not help smokers to quit in the long run.

A big problem with these aids may be the smokers themselves. Previous studies were more clinical, not taking human nature into account. This one tracked habits, and tracked the length of time smokers used the patches and gums (many did not use them as recommended).

The study checked to see who worked with a counselor along with the nicotine aids as well as which subject had family/friend support. It was found that heavy smokers trying to quit while using patches or gun, but without a counselor, were twice more likely to fail than those who had expert help.

The other relapsed smokers in the study did so with and without aids. The nicotine aids made no difference.

The researchers concluded that aids can help some people to quit, but what's really needed is counseling, personal goals, purpose and sheer will. This, along with good family and friend support, and social pressure, are what smokers need to quit for life.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Tobacco Use. Web. Wed, January 11, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/osh.htm

The New York Times. Nicotine Gum and Skin Patch Face New Doubt. Web. Wed, January 11, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/health/study-finds-nicotine-gum-and-pa...

National Lung Cancer Partnership . Lung Cancer Facts. Lung Cancer Info. Web. Wed, January 11, 2012. http://www.nationallungcancerpartnership.org/lung-cancer-info/lung-cance...

EmpowHER.com. Lung Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis. Web. Wed, January 11, 2012. https://www.empowher.com/condition/lung-cancer/symptoms

Reviewed January 12, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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