News

Quitting smoking unaided methods examined


30 April 2013

University of Sydney researchers want to interview people who have given up smoking 'cold turkey' as part of a major study researching the most successful quit methods.

Study lead, Professor Simon Chapman from the School of Public Health, said the qualitative, interview-based study is looking at how the majority of people who successfully quit smoking actually do it.

"Interestingly, there is a huge level of research ignorance about what is a major phenomenon - that most ex-smokers quit without drugs or professional help. This is something we want to learn more about."

In a recent paper on the topic published in the journal, Tobacco Control, Professor Chapman and collaborator Melanie Wakefield argue that most people manage to give up by themselves, without the use of 'clean nicotine' methods, such as patches.

"The American Cancer Society estimated in 1986 — 26 years ago — that over 90 percent of the estimated 37 million people who have stopped smoking in this country since the Surgeon General's first report linking smoking to cancer have done so unaided," they wrote.

"Smoking prevalence began declining from the early 1960s in most Anglophone nations some 20 years before nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) became available by prescription and then over the counter."

Professor Chapman said the declines in other nations generally commenced later and proceeded more slowly.

"Those insisting that it is somehow obvious that non-combusted nicotine should be an essential accompaniment to mass cessation seem to have either forgotten or are ignorant of the history of how this massive phenomenon occurred: for 25 years, in the absence of NRT, and thereafter, largely in spite of its increased availability," he said.

"Even today, despite 20 years of massive marketing efforts by pharmaceutical companies and the dominance of assisted cessation within the smoking cessation community, 15 in the USA, unassisted cessation today produces 2.8 times more successful quit attempts than are attributable to NRT.

"In the 50 years since the twentieth century's smoking epidemic began to decline from the beginning of the 1960s, hundreds of millions of smokers around the world have stopped smoking permanently.

"Overwhelmingly, most stopped without any formal assistance in the form of medication or professional assistance, including many millions of former heavy smokers.

"This is something we want to quantify with our study focused on quitting in Australia."


To register for the study, call 02 9351 7789.


Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Simon Chapman on 0438 340 304, 02 9351 5203, simon.chapman@sydney.edu.au

Rachel Gleeson, 02 9351 4630, 0481 004 782 or rachel.gleeson@sydney.edu.au