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2010 Resolution: Stop Smoking

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.Dear Dr. Levister: It’s the New Year! After several unsuccessful attempts, my husband and I have resolved in 2010 to stop smoking once and for all. What is the best way to quit? H.C.

Dear H.C.: People can struggle for years to quit smoking and the magnitude of advice and remedies

about how to do so effectively can be overwhelming.

So, which method works best? New research examining five treatments finds that the nicotine patch plus a nicotine lozenge does the trick.

The study, appearing in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, enrolled 1,504 adult smokers—all of whom were motivated to quit—to try one of six smoking cessation methods: nicotine lozenge alone, nicotine patch alone, bupropion (the drug Wellbutrin) alone, patch and nicotine lozenge, bupropion and nicotine lozenge or lastly, a placebo.

In addition to taking the specified treatment for eight to 12 weeks after quitting, participants got six one-on-one counseling sessions. People were evaluated after one week, eight weeks and six months after quitting.

Nicotine patch plus a lozenge had the strongest support in helping folks take the first steps to quit, researchers found. These participants were more likely to have quit after seven days, and although some relapsed, they had longer periods between quitting and relapse than people in the other groups.

Previous studies have found the patch works well with other nicotine replacement methods from gum to nasal sprays, the authors said. Researchers think the key to making that first successful attempt to quit is using a patch with some other form of treatment. The key to quitting once and for all is motivation, knowledge of health risk and encouragement from spouses, family members, co-workers and others who care about your well being.

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