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Smokers urged to quit cold turkey

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Quitting smoking "cold turkey" is more effective and needs greater emphasis than nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), according to a prominent public health researcher.

Writing in the latest issue of The Lancet, Professor Simon Chapman, from Sydney University's School of Public Health, said unassisted cessation remained the preferred and most successful method among smokers.

"Yes, if you do use these products you do increase your success rate but there is also a very important message that you don't really need these methods in order to quit," Prof Chapman told Pharmacy News.

"If you ask a hundred people who used to be smokers and who no longer smoke, 'how did you quit?' overwhelmingly the largest proportion of smokers say, 'well I just stopped' and that is a message that a lot of people haven't heard for a long time."

Prof Chapman accused NRT providers and manufacturers of trying to mislead smokers through "turbocharged" advertising that they would not succeed unaided.

"A lot of people who are involved in smoking cessation are involved in providing professional help to quit and there is also obviously the influence of the pharmaceutical industry who of course want to put the idea that the best way to quit smoking is to use a drug," Prof Chapman said.

He said the NRT industry focused too much on success rates, rather than success numbers, and cited data from a Californian study of one million smokers that showed that nearly twice as many people quit unaided than with any cessation therapy.

"We need to resurrect the very positive message that in fact the first line to quit smoking is to tell people that by far the method that gets people to quit is cold turkey or having several attempts," Prof Chapman said.


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