Background: The use of smoking cessation medications can considerably enhance the long-term abstinence rate at a reasonable cost, but only a small proportion of quitters seek medical assistance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the factors that influence the decision to use such treatments and the willingness-to-pay of smokers for improved cessation drugs.
Method: A discrete choice experiment was conducted amongst smokers in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Choice sets consisted of two hypothetical medications described via five attributes (price, efficacy, possibility of minor side effects, attenuation of weight gain and availability) and an opt-out option. Various discrete choice models were estimated to analyse both the factors that influence treatment choice and those that influence the overall propensity to use a smoking cessation medication.
Results: Our results indicate that smokers are willing to pay for higher efficacy, less-frequent side effects and prevention of weight gain. Whether the drug is available over-the-counter or on medical prescription is of secondary importance. In addition, we show that there are several individual-specific factors influencing the decision to use such medications, including education level. Results also indicate substantial preference heterogeneity.
Conclusion: This study shows that there is a potential demand for improved cessation medications. Broader usage could be reached through lower out-of-pocket price and greater efficacy. Secondary aspects such as side effects and weight gain should also be taken into consideration.