Aim: Approximately 50% of African American smokers are light smokers (smoke < or = 10 cigarettes a day). The prevalence of light smoking in the United States is increasing, yet there has not been a single smoking cessation clinical trial targeting light smokers. The purpose of this 2 x 2 factorial, randomized clinical trial was to evaluate the efficacy of nicotine gum (2 mg versus placebo) and counseling (motivational interviewing versus health education) for African American light smokers.
Design: Participants were assigned randomly to one of four study arms: 2 mg nicotine gum plus health education (HE); 2 mg nicotine gum plus motivational interviewing (MI); placebo gum plus HE; and placebo gum plus MI.
Participants and setting: A total of 755 African American light smokers (66% female, mean age = 45) were enrolled at a community health center over a 16-month period.
Intervention and measurements: Participants received an 8-week supply of nicotine gum and six counseling sessions during the course of the 26-week study. Biochemical measures included expired carbon monoxide (CO) and serum and salivary cotinine.
Findings: Seven-day quit rates for nicotine gum were no better than for the placebo group (14.2% versus 11.1%, P = 0.232) at 6 months. However, a counseling effect emerged, with HE performing significantly better than MI (16.7% versus 8.5%, P < 0.001). These results were consistent across outcome time-points (weeks 1, 8, and 26).
Conclusions: Results highlight the potential positive impact of directive information and advice-oriented counseling on smoking cessation. Studies are needed to assess other interventions that may further improve quit rates among African American light smokers who are motivated to quit.