Is the U.S. Government’s Quitting Policy Killing Smokers?

A provocative take on the nicotine replacement therapy as a smoking cessation strategy. The website has a strong bias for quitting smoking cold turkey, but this seems well sourced. Well worth the time it takes to read it. I’d love to see a retort. Highlights here:

Surveys from California (2003), Minnesota (2002), Quebec (2004), London (2003), Maryland (2005), UK NHS (2006) and Australia (2006) all report absolutely no advantage for quitters using pharmaceutical quitting aids over cold turkey quitters. In fact, in the Australian study, among patients of 1,000 family practice physicians, cold turkey was twice as effective as NRT or bupropion (Zyban/Wellbutrin).

But how can this be? What about those clinical studies the government and its industry partners cite in support of their ‘double your chances’ assertion? What Leavitt, Gerberding, Collins and Husten do not mention is that clinical NRT studies were not blind as claimed.

If they haven’t read a June 2004 study by Mooney, they should. Mooney reviewed 73 allegedly double-blind NRT studies and declared that the limited number of studies assessing blindness were not generally blind as claimed because ‘subjects accurately judged treatment assignment at a rate significantly above chance.’ In other words, a significant number of study participants knew whether they were getting a drug or placebo. This knowledge makes suspect any difference in success rates.