Benefits of smoking cessation medicines decline over first year

Research has shown that the proportion of people who benefit from smoking cessation medicines dwindles over the first year of use

Varenicline, smoking cessation therapy

Although smoking cessation products have been shown to be effective, it is unclear whether their benefits persist over time.

In Addiction (29 January 2018), researchers carried out a meta-analysis of 61 studies involving 27,647 participants who were randomly assigned to either an intervention group, which received smoking cessation medicines including bupropion, varenicline and nicotine replacement therapy, or to a control group, which did not receive active medicines[1]

They found that, overall, less than 40% of those assigned to the intervention group were abstinent at three months, around a quarter were abstinent at six months and a fifth at 12 months. The net benefit of medication versus placebo declined significantly from 17.3% at three months to 8.2% at 12 months.

The researchers said the findings indicate that while the proportion of people who benefit from smoking cessation medications dwindles during the first year of use, this could still have a substantial impact on public health. However, there is a need for better smoking cessation and initiation strategies.


[1] Rosen L, Galili T, Kott J et al. Diminishing benefit of smoking cessation medications during the first year: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Addiction 2018. doi:10.1111/add.14134

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, April 2018, Vol 10, No 4;10(4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204467

You may also be interested in