Skip the Patch. It rarely works.
Patches don't work. Period.
In every study that's ever been conducted on the patch, the long-term success rates have been abysmal.
Participants on the patch had an average quit rate of just 9.3 percent.
That's even lower than the rate of people who quit smoking cold turkey (11.5 percent).
You don't have to just take our word for it. Be our guest and read the three major studies that have been conducted on the patch.
The patch isn't any better than quitting cold turkey.
A study of 787 smokers conducted in 2013 confirms that nicotine patches are no more effective than going cold turkey in the long run.
“We were disappointed. We didn’t get the results we hoped we would get. The findings say that we are pretty good at getting people to quit, but not great at getting people to stay quit," said Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health and a co-author of the paper
Tobacco Control Journal, 2012
Conclusion: Nicotine patches aren’t any more effective than quitting cold turkey in helping people quit long-term. The odds of relapse were unaffected by the use of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy such as the patch) or by receiving professional counseling. Relapse rates were highest among prior heavy smokers who used NRT for any length of time without professional counseling.
Study Authors: Hillel R Alpert, Lois Biener, and Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health
Study Subjects: 787 adult smokers in Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking. They answered questionnaires at three different times between 2001 and 2006 about whether they had started smoking again.
Methodology: Participants were interviewed three different times between 2001 and 2006 about whether they had started smoking again. The response rate was 46% at the first interview, 56% at the second interview and 68% at the third interview. The purpose of the interviews was to determine if there was any relationship between relapses and use of NRT or the nicotine patch.
"Methods approved by the FDA are simply not helpful."
"There are 46 million addicted adult smokers in our nation. The problem remains that, while almost three-quarters wish to quit, well under ten percent succeed.
"One reason for this abysmal success rate is that the methods approved by the FDA (including the nicotine patch, gum, inhalers and pharmaceuticals such as Zyban and Chantix) and promoted by the official public health authorities and the large nonprofits, are simply not helpful to the majority of those who try them.
"We at ACSH are in favor of truthfully communicating with smokers about the benefits of a harm reduction approach and promoting this as a new paradigm to deal with the unacceptable toll of smoking."
Excerpt from a letter to the FDA from Elizabeth Whelan, M.D., president of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and doctors from the American Cancer Society, the Royal London Hospital, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Boston University School of Public Health.
Every major study of the nicotine patch comes to the same conclusion.
Below is a summary of the three largest studies on the nicotine patch.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1997
Conclusion: Only 11% of people on the 21-day patch were still not smoking at six months. The success rate was higher (22.7%) in those on the 14-day patch, but the placebo patch also had an 18.4% success rate.
Study Authors: : Sønderskov J, Olsen J, Sabroe S, Meillier L, Overvad K., Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Denmark
Study Subjects: 522 pharmacy customers who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day were given either nicotine patches or placebos from January to March 1994.
Methodology: The authors examined the effect of 24-hour nicotine patches in smoking cessation among over-the-counter customers in Denmark, based on a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.
Archives of Family Medicine, 1998
Conclusion: Only 8.2% of smokers on the patch and 4% of people in the placebo group were still not smoking after six months. Also, 57% of people who were on the patch reported at least one adverse event.
Study Authors: Davidson M, Epstein M, Burt R, Schaefer C, Whitworth G, McDonald A., Chicago Center for Clinical Research
Study Subjects: 802 adults (mean age of 39 years) who smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day for a year or more. Most (89%) were white and 54% were female.
Methodology: Nicotine patches were given away at the shopping mall along with instructions and a smoking cessation self-help booklet. Study follow-up was conducted with those who had quit smoking after 6 weeks.
American Journal of Public Health, 1999
Conclusion: After six months, the smoking cessation rate among the free patches group was 8.7% for the active patch and 4.3% with the placebo group. In the group that paid for patches, the smoking cessation rate was 10.8% at six months.
Study Authors: Hays JT, Croghan IT, Schroeder DR, Offord KP, Hurt RD, Wolter TD, Nides MA, Davidson M., Mayo Clinic
Study Subjects: 958 participants who were 18 years or older and had smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day for at least six months were enrolled at three study sites. Some purchased the patches and others were given 22-mg, 24-hour nicotine patches for free.
Methodology: Six-week trials were conducted and outcomes were measure by self-reported smoking abstinence confirmed by carbon monoxide measurements.
From the front page of The New York Times
"The nicotine gum and patches that millions of smokers use to help kick their habit have no lasting benefit and may backfire in some cases, according to the most rigorous long-term study to date of so-called nicotine replacement therapy.
"In surveys, smokers who have used the over-the-counter products, either as part of a program or on their own, have reported little benefit.
The products have been controversial since at least 2002, when researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reported from a large survey that they appeared to offer no benefit."