For many of us, the list of resolutions we put together in anticipation of the year ahead includes changes that we’ve tried to make before. Thousands of people resolve to stop using tobacco every year, and it’s often not the first attempt. However, current research highlighted in the January 8 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that the number of smokers in the United States is declining and medications can increase success rates.
Success in Smoking Cessation over the Past 5 Decades
The first Surgeon General’s report on smoking was released 50 years ago which began a nationwide effort to reduce smoking and harmful side effects. The study reports the efforts for smoking cessation have prevented 8 million premature deaths in the United States and extended the life of those people by an average of nearly 20 years. However, 18 million Americans died during the study period, and according to the study’s author, only about one third of potential deaths have been prevented.
Smoking began to decline after the first Surgeon General report and with national regulation changes including:
- Restrictions on tobacco advertising
- Limitations on where people can smoke
- Awareness of health risks
- Warning labels on packages
- High tobacco taxes
Combination Smoking Cessation Medications Show Better Success
Two smoking cessation medications may be more effective than just one according to a new study. The combination of varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Wellbutrin) shows better rates of quitting in 12 weeks because the medications work differently. After one year, relapse rates were the same with using Chantix alone, which is not surprising since smoking cessation has many relapses. Researchers say using both medications may be more effective especially for heavy smokers.
Behavioral therapy should also be considered in addition to medication therapy.
Mental Health and Chantix Study
A new study reports improved abstinence for mental health patients with the use of Chantix and behavioral therapy sessions. Each participant in the study received a daily dose of Chantix and weekly group behavioral therapy session. After 12 weeks, the participants were randomly assigned to either a group that would continue Chantix or a placebo group for an additional 40 weeks. All participants continued behavioral therapy which decreased in frequency for both groups. The Chantix group experienced a 60% continued abstinence rate, while only 19% of the placebo group abstained from smoking. In fact, almost half of the placebo group resumed smoking within 35 days.
For more information, tools, and resources that can increase the success of smoking cessation efforts, see HHQI’s Cardiovascular Health Part 2 Best Practice Intervention Package.