While a review of the last 20 years of smoking cessation research shows improvements in pharmaceutical medications to aid cessation and the benefits of free telephone cessation coaching, recent trends in smoking cessation trouble tobacco control researchers at the University of California, San Diego.

“For the past decade, attempts to quite smoking have increased, but the proportion of people who become successful quitters has gone down,” says John P. Pierce, PhD, professor of family and preventative medicine and director of population sciences at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. “Widespread dissemination of cessation services has not led to an increase in the probability that a quit attempt will be successful.”

According to the researchers, the problem does not appear to be with the cessation services themselves. Rather recent evidence suggests that part of the problem may lie in how cessation aids are marketed by pharmaceutical companies; many such ads suggest that quitting smoking may be as simples as putting on a patch. The researchers found that young smokers in particular are now more likely to underestimate the amount of work needed in order to quit smoking successfully.

Traditionally, the majority of smokers who quit successfully have done so without assistance, and recent data suggests that this has not changed. Current national policy, however, discourages unassisted quitting, advising clinicians to make sure smokers who want to quit do so with pharmaceutical assistance. This policy, say the researchers, may undermine smokers’ belief in their ability to quit on their own.

The researcher suggest that policy makers and academia join together for a serious review of tobacco cessation policy.

The findings of the review appear in the latest edition of the Annual Review of Public Health.

Source: University of California, San Diego Health Sciences