Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy Improves Quitting Rates, Study Finds

Randomized controlled trial to assess comprehensive smoking cessation treatment benefits for smokers in IPA model HMOs

    • April 11, 2008

From 1997 to 2000, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, carried out a controlled trial to assess the costs and effectiveness of a one-year, comprehensive, smoking cessation treatment benefit in independent practice association/network-model health maintenance organizations (HMOs).

Researchers recruited an experimental group of 601 participants and a control group of 603 participants from large employers enrolled in one of two HMOs. All participants received self-help materials. In addition, participants in the experimental group could call a toll-free telephone number to order free nicotine replacement therapy (either the over-the-counter patch or gum) and to obtain a referral for free group counseling.

Key Findings

  • Offering smokers free, over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy significantly increased quit rates, attempts to quit, and the use of nicotine gum and patch.

  • The researchers concluded that offering free nicotine replacement therapy was a cost-effective strategy for increasing quit rates, quit attempts, and use of the nicotine gum and patch.

  • Participants were much more likely to use nicotine replacement therapy than group counseling.

  • In both the experimental and control groups, participants who used Zyban were more likely to report having quit at six months.