Smokers can quit without nicotine-replacement products. Really.

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Contrary to the TV commercials and magazine advertisements, you don’t have to use a nicotine-replacement product to quit smoking, say two doctors writing in the new issue of PLoS Medicine.

Many smokers are able to quit unassisted, say Simon Chapman and Ross MacKenzie of the School of Public Health in Sydney, Australia. They criticize what they call the ‘medicalization of smoking cessation,’ because it’s not backed by evidence. Indeed, an analysis of 511 studies published in 2007 and 2008 show that two-thirds to three-quarters of smokers stop unaided and most ex-smokers report that cessation was less difficult than expected.


The pharmaceutical industry has promoted the ‘medicalization of smoking cessation,’ in part by funding smoking cessation studies that use the various nicotine aids or medications. What’s really needed, the authors of the essay say, is some balance in the messages smokers receive about quitting. That is: You can do it, and it may not cost you a dime.

-- Shari Roan