Aims: Nicotine addiction is a complex, chronic condition with physiological and psychological/behavioural aspects that make smoking cessation extremely difficult. This paper reviews current recommendations for smoking cessation and the efficacy of pharmacotherapy and behavioural modification techniques, used either alone or in combination, for smoking cessation.
Results: Abstinence rates for pharmacotherapies range from approximately 16% to approximately 30% at 1-year follow-up, with efficacy odds ratios (ORs) compared with placebo of approximately 1.7 for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), approximately 1.9 for bupropion sustained release and approximately 3.0 for varenicline. Behaviour modification therapies have achieved quit rates of between 8% and 43% for up to 1 year, with ORs in comparison to no treatment of between approximately 1.2 and approximately 2.2. No direct comparisons have been made between pharmacotherapy alone and psychological behaviour strategies alone. However, combining physiological approaches with counselling significantly increases the odds of quitting compared with either technique alone.
Conclusions: Applying multimodal techniques for the treatment of nicotine addiction is the recommended approach and has demonstrated the potential to improve rates of permanent abstinence in smokers attempting cessation. While the numbers of patients receiving help and advice regarding smoking cessation is increasing, the multimodal approach appears to be currently underutilised by clinicians and therefore smoking cessation strategies are not being optimised.