July 20, 2009

Nicotine patch, better before quitting

U.S. researchers recommend beginning the nicotine patch before trying in earnest to stop smoking.

The study, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, finds the pre-cessation patch doubles the quit success rate.

Right now, the nicotine patch is only recommended for use after the quit date, lead author Jed Rose of the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Research says in a statement. People who use the patch before quitting are likely to spontaneously reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke because the patch satisfies their need for nicotine and makes the act of smoking less enjoyable.

Rose says the patch also decreases withdrawal symptoms, but people are afraid to try a pre-cessation patch because current labeling recommends users not smoke while on treatment.

That's why our study is so important. It reinforces the findings of previous studies, which show the value of pre-cessation patch therapy, and demonstrates that using a pre-cessation nicotine patch can make a significant difference in a person's ability to quit, Rose says.

The researchers suggest the nicotine patch labeling be changed.