Smoking cessation program adds years to life

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 7, 2005

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Participation in a smoking cessation program with strong physician participation, a dozen group behavior modification sessions and nicotine replacement therapy was associated with a significant reduction in mortality that was even more significant if participants actually quit smoking, according to a study published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers randomized smokers who presented with asymptomatic airway obstruction to receive either usual care or the more intensive smoking cessation program. Those in usual care had an 18% increased risk of dying within 14 years of the intervention. In both groups, death rates among those who quit intermittently or quit long term were nearly half that of those who never stopped smoking.

Authors of the paper suggested that this demonstrated the significant impact that such programs can have even without making significant numbers of people quit long term.

"One might have thought this program was not working, because only 20% or so of the people who were enrolled in it quit smoking continuously," said John E. Connett, PhD, study group leader and professor of biostatistics at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "However, quitting had such a statistically large impact on the overall population that even though many people quit and started smoking again, as long as they were smoke-free for periods of time, they had better outcomes than those who continued to smoke."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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