- What’s the Best Way to Quit Smoking - My Review of the Top Quit Smoking Methods -

By David Williams republished on November 21, 2017

Every year thousands of people make the decision to quit smoking. Most never get past the starting line! Of those that make the effort to quit, a depressingly high number have started smoking again within six months, despite the knowledge that everyone has about the dangers of smoking.

Tobacco contains more than 4,000 different chemicals! It is known that more than 400 of these chemicals (such as formaldehyde, arsenic, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and benzene) are harmful to humans. It has also been shown that around 50 of the chemicals released when tobacco is burned can cause cancer in humans. If you add to the cancer risk the risk of a wide range of diseases of the heart and blood system (heart attacks, stroke, gangrene in the lower limbs, impotence); lung diseases in addition to lung cancer; diseases of the digestive system and urinary system, then there are very clear reasons for people to stop smoking – and yet, so many people find it difficult to succeed in quitting.

This article is not meant to be a review of the arguments about whether smoking is an addiction or merely habit (my view, which I will write about in a future article is that it is a habit rather than an addiction), but it does strike me that the reason that so many people fail in their attempts to quit smoking is that their chosen method does not deal with the reasons that they smoke – with the exception of hypnotherapy they do not deal with the habit.

So, what’s the best way to quit smoking? Here are some of the popular quit smoking methods:

Just stopping by using willpower (cold turkey) has a success rate of between 4% and (at best) 10%. (Ref 1) If you decide to quit smoking by this method, you need to be aware that it is not very successful! You need support, either of a group, or of another method!

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT = nicotine patches, gum, spray). Despite all the type, all the advertising spends of the pharmaceutical industry, and despite the free availability of NRT on the NHS, the published clinical studies show a rather disappointing success rate. One study (Ref 2) showed a success rate of only 6.8%. The success rate shown in other clinical studies is varied, ranging from 10% (Ref 3), to 16% (Ref 4), with the highest being 30% (Ref 5). These figures strike me as being not very high in view of the amount of money that is spent on them!

Zyban (bupropion) is an antidepressant that is often used to help people stop smoking. One clinical trial showed a success rate as low as 14.6% (Ref 6), with as many as 12.6% of the Zyban group leaving the study early due to side effects! The manufacturer’s own information leaflet claims a success rate (people not smoking after 1 year) of only 23%. The best data I can find shows a success rate of 55.1% (Ref 7), but the people in the study had to continue taking the drug for 1 year instead of the manufacturer’s recommendation of 12 weeks! 

Champix / Chantix (varenicline). The best clinical study I can find for this drug produced a success rate (1 year abstinence) of only 23% (Ref 8). Again, I think this is inadequate in view of the expense and the range of side effects (abdominal pain, dry mouth, constipation, rash, breathing problems, headache, increased appetite, tiredness, insomnia) suffered by users.

E-cigarettes are the newest addition to the smokers’ quit smoking armoury! In 2008 stated that it does not consider e-cigarettes a legitimate therapy for smokers due to the absence of any clinical studies showing either effectiveness or safety! Concerns have been expressed over their safety, and in 2008 a report found traces of a cancer-causing chemical (tobacco specific nitrosamines = TSNA) in e-cigarettes (Ref 9). No e-cigarette is licensed as a medicinal product in the UK.

I can only find two studies of an acceptable quality demonstrating the success rates of acupuncture in smoking cessation. The first (Ref 10) is a review that showed a success rate (abstinence at 1 year) of 30%. An individual study in 2004 showed a success rate of 41% (Ref 11).

So, as I am a hypnotherapist, I am very interested in the success rate for the mode of treatment I use! As long ago as 1970, a study (Ref 12) showed a success rate of 88%. Other studies (Ref 13, Ref 14) demonstrate success rates between 53.4% and 67%. Of the currently available methods to quit smoking, hypnotherapy seems to produce the best results.

So you can make your choice of which method you choose to stop smoking – I recommend you use the data I have reproduced here to make your choice!

Do you agree with the succcess rates above? What therapies have you tried to stop smoking? Share your stories with us below:

References:

1. Hughes JR, Keely J, Naud S., "Shape of the relapse curve and long-term abstinence among untreated smokers." Addiction 2004;99:29-38

2. BMJ 2009; 338:b1024

3. British Medical Journal 1983; 286(6366):595

4. New England Journal of Medicine, 1999;340(9):685

5. Doran, C.M. et al, (2006) “Smoking status of Australian general practice patients, and their quit attempts.” Addictive Behaviours 31: 758 – 766

6. Jorenby D E, Hays J T, Rigotti N A, Azoulay S, Watsky E J, Williams K E, Billing C B, Gong J, Reeves K R (2006). "Efficacy of varenicline, an alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist, vs placebo or sustained-release bupropion for smoking cessation: a randomized controlled trial". JAMA 296 (1): 56–63.

7. Hays JT, Hurt RD, Rigotti NA, et al. Sustained release bupropion for pharmacologic relapse after smoking cessation. Ann Intern Med 2001; 135:423-33

8. Jorenby D E, Hays J T, Rigotti N A, Azoulay S, Watsky E J, Williams K E, Billing C B, Gong J, Reeves K R (2006). "Efficacy of varenicline, an alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist, vs placebo or sustained-release bupropion for smoking cessation: a randomized controlled trial". JAMA 296 (1): 56–63.

9. Murray Laugesen (2008). "Safety Report on the Ruyan e-cigarette Cartridge and Inhaled Aerosol". Health New Zealand Ltd.

10. Cui Meng, Advances in studies on acupuncture abstinence, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1995, 15(4): 301–307, and Cui Meng, Advances in studies on acupuncture abstinence (continued), Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1996; 16 (1): 65–69.

11. Ausfeld-Hafter B, Marti F, Hoffmann S. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2004 Feb;11(1):8-13.

12. Kline, M.(1970) International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis

13. Doran, C.M. et al, (2006) “Smoking status of Australian general practice patients, and their quit attempts.” Addictive Behaviours 31: 758 – 766

14. Crasilneck, H. B., & Hall, J. A. (1985). Clinical hypnosis: Principles and applications (2nd ed.) Orlando, FL: Grune & Stratton

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