Moderators of real-world effectiveness of smoking cessation aids: a population study

Addiction. 2019 Sep;114(9):1627-1638. doi: 10.1111/add.14656. Epub 2019 Jul 6.


Background and aims: Understanding whether and how far smokers' characteristics influence the effectiveness of treatment may be important for tailoring recommendations on cessation aids to those most likely to help the user achieve abstinence. This study aimed to estimate the effectiveness of commonly used smoking cessation aids and test whether their effectiveness differs according to cigarette addiction, socio-economic status, age or sex.

Design: Correlational design using cross-sectional survey data collected monthly between 2006 and 2018.

Setting: England.

Participants: A total of 18 929 adults (aged ≥ 16 years, 52.0% female) who had smoked within the previous 12 months and had made at least one quit attempt during that period.

Measurements: The outcome was self-reported abstinence from quit date to survey. Independent variables were self-reported use during the most recent quit attempt of: prescription nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), NRT over-the-counter, varenicline, bupropion, e-cigarettes, face-to-face behavioural support, telephone support, written self-help materials, websites and hypnotherapy. Moderators were cigarette addiction, social grade, age and sex.

Findings: After adjustment for covariates and use of other cessation aids, users of e-cigarettes [odds ratio (OR) = 1.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.69-2.24] and varenicline (OR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.51-2.21) had significantly higher odds of reporting abstinence than those who did not report use of these cessation aids. Use of prescription NRT was associated with increased abstinence in older (≥ 45 years) (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.25-2.00) but not younger (< 45 years) smokers (OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.85-1.42). Use of websites was associated with increased abstinence in smokers from lower (OR = 2.20, 95% CI = 1.22-3.98) but not higher social grades (OR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.40-1.38). There was little evidence of benefits of using other cessation aids.

Conclusions: Use of e-cigarettes and varenicline are associated with higher abstinence rates following a quit attempt in England. Use of prescription of nicotine replacement therapy is also associated with higher abstinence rates, but only in older smokers, and use of websites only in smokers from lower socio-economic status.

Keywords: behavioural support; bupropion; cessation aids; e-cigarettes; nicotine replacement therapy; real-world effectiveness; smoking cessation; varenicline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bupropion / therapeutic use
  • Counseling*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varenicline / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Smoking Cessation Agents
  • Bupropion
  • Varenicline