Quitting smoking is often a difficult process. While some men and women succeed in ceasing the habit cold turkey, most struggle. They may abstain for a few months and go back to it later. But according to a new report, the difficulty may be because some approaches are better than the others.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (UPSTF), a group of independent researchers chosen by the federal government, behavioral interventions may be more effective for smoking adults, including pregnant women. The benefits of some of these approaches may also be enhanced when combined with drug therapy.
The team reviewed several data about smoking cessation and found "convincing evidence" on the effectiveness of behavioral therapy such as phone counseling, one-on-one counseling sessions, and self-help materials among smoking adults (excluding pregnant women). Drugs such as varenicline, bupropion hydrochloride sustained release, and nicotine replacement may also be provided alongside these behavioral therapies. However, when it comes medications, it's best if they are combined rather than used alone as in the case of nicotine replacements.
Behavioral interventions are also incredibly helpful for pregnant women who wish to abstain or quit smoking. But drug therapy may not work, calling the evidence as inadequate or lacking.
As to side effects, behavioral interventions are deemed safe with little to no effect on health. Effects of drug use among smoking but non-pregnant adults are small while the evidence is insufficient among pregnant women.
The team doesn't recommend the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as vape due to lack of adequate evidence of their contribution to smoking cessation, as well as their possible side effects to health.
For its final recommendations, the task force encourages clinicians to provide behavioral interventions for both pregnant and non-pregnant adults. They also propose drug therapies for the latter group.
The entire report is now available in Annals of Internal Medicine since Sept 22.