Efficacy of interventions to combat tobacco addiction: Cochrane update of 2012 reviews

Addiction. 2013 Oct;108(10):1711-21. doi: 10.1111/add.12291. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Background and aims: The Cochrane Collaboration is an international not-for-profit organization which produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health-care interventions. This paper is the first in a series of annual updates of Cochrane reviews on tobacco addiction interventions. It also provides an up-to-date overview of review findings in this area to date and summary statistics for cessation reviews in which meta-analyses were conducted.

Methods: In 2012, the Group published seven new reviews and updated 13 others. This update summarizes and comments on these reviews. It also summarizes key findings from all the other reviews in this area.

Results: New reviews in 2012 found that in smokers using pharmacotherapy, behavioural support improves success rates [risk ratio (RR) 1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.09-1.24], and that combining behavioural support and pharmacotherapy aids cessation (RR 1.82, 95% CI = 1.66-2.00). Updated reviews established mobile phones as potentially helpful in aiding cessation (RR 1.71, 95% CI = 1.47-1.99), found that cytisine (RR 3.98, 95% CI = 2.01-7.87) and low-dose varenicline (RR 2.09, 95% CI = 1.56-2.78) aid smoking cessation, and found that training health professionals in smoking cessation improves patient cessation rates (RR 1.60, 95% CI = 1.26-2.03). The updated reviews confirmed the benefits of nicotine replacement therapy, standard dose varenicline and providing cessation treatment free of charge. Lack of demonstrated efficacy remained for partner support, expired-air carbon monoxide feedback and lung function feedback.

Conclusions: Cochrane systematic review evidence for the first time establishes the efficacy of behavioural support over and above pharmacotherapy, as well as the efficacy of cytisine, mobile phone technology, low-dose varenicline and health professional training in promoting smoking cessation.

Keywords: Behavioural therapies; cessation; pharmacotherapies; prevention; systematic reviews; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / therapeutic use
  • Azocines / therapeutic use
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy*
  • Benzazepines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Quinolizines / therapeutic use
  • Quinoxalines / therapeutic use
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varenicline


  • Alkaloids
  • Azocines
  • Benzazepines
  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Quinolizines
  • Quinoxalines
  • cytisine
  • Varenicline