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J Addict Dis. 2005;24(1):101-13.

Nicotine replacement therapy use among a cohort of smokers.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been shown to assist smokers to stop smoking in randomized trials, but little is known about its use in the general population.


As part of ongoing follow-up of a cohort established in 1989 in Washington County, Maryland, a questionnaire mailed in 1998 included a question about ever use of the two NRT products then available over-the-counter: nicotine gum and nicotine patch. This study reports on ever use of NRT among the 1,954 respondents who were current smokers in 1989 and subsequently provided data on NRT use and smoking habits in 1998.


Overall, 36% of the smokers in 1989 had ever used NRT in some form by 1998; 10% used gum only, 16% used patch only, and 10% used both gum and patch. Number of cigarettes smoked per day at baseline was the strongest predictor of ever use of NRT (ptrend < 0.001). Compared to nonusers, ever users of NRT were more likely to have more than 12 years of education (p < 0.01) and be 25-54 years old at baseline (p < 0.001). When NRT use was assessed in relation to smoking status in 1998, 30% of NRT ever users compared to 39% of nonusers had quit smoking (p < 0.01). Among persistent smokers, the likelihood of reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day was similar between NRT ever users (40%) and nonusers (41%).


Ever use of NRT was common among this cohort of smokers, particularly among heavy smokers. Compared to nonusers, ever users of NRT were less likely to have stopped smoking and equally likely to cut down the frequency of smoking. This may reflect a tendency to turn to NRT for help after failing to quit by other means.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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