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Free nicotine patches and extra counselling don't help smokers quit

Sat 24th March, 2012

Offering free nicotine patches or intensive counselling to smokers does not help them quit, a study in the BMJ says.

University of Nottingham researchers found that this additional support - on top of what is already offered - had no effect on numbers giving up smoking.

A team at the university's Centre for Tobacco Control Studies randomly assigned 2591 smokers who had called the NHS quitline for help to stop into four groups.

They received standard support with preset messages at intervals and information materials, standard support plus proactive counselling, and standard support plus nicotine replacement patches for six weeks or a combination of extra support and patches.

Six months later around a fifth of the people in each group admitted they were smoking. A large number of smokers did not complete the trial and were assumed to be still be smoking.

In 2011 nicotine replacement therapy cost the NHS £31m in England and Wales and it is thought all smoking cessation services cost around £80m.

The Department of Health said it would not now offer any extra services.

Source: BBC NewsDaily Telegraph (23 March 2012)

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