Gradual Versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation: A Randomized, Controlled Noninferiority Trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Most smoking cessation guidelines advise quitting abruptly. However, many quit attempts involve gradual cessation. If gradual cessation is as successful, smokers can be advised to quit either way.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the success of quitting smoking by gradual compared with abrupt quitting.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled noninferiority trial. (International Standardized Randomized Controlled Trial Number Register: ISRCTN22526020).

SETTING: Primary care clinics in England.

PARTICIPANTS: 697 adult smokers with tobacco addiction.

INTERVENTION: Participants quit smoking abruptly or reduced smoking gradually by 75% in the 2 weeks before quitting. Both groups received behavioral support from nurses and used nicotine replacement before and after quit day.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome measure was prolonged validated abstinence from smoking 4 weeks after quit day. The secondary outcome was prolonged, validated, 6-month abstinence.

RESULTS: At 4 weeks, 39.2% (95% CI, 34.0% to 44.4%) of the participants in the gradual-cessation group were abstinent compared with 49.0% (CI, 43.8% to 54.2%) in the abrupt-cessation group (relative risk, 0.80 [CI, 0.66 to 0.93]). At 6 months, 15.5% (CI, 12.0% to 19.7%) of the participants in the gradual-cessation group were abstinent compared with 22.0% (CI, 18.0% to 26.6%) in the abrupt-cessation group (relative risk, 0.71 [CI, 0.46 to 0.91]). Participants who preferred gradual cessation were significantly less likely to be abstinent at 4 weeks than those who preferred abrupt cessation (38.3% vs 52.2%; P = 0.007).

LIMITATIONS: Blinding was impossible. Most participants were white.

CONCLUSION: Quitting smoking abruptly is more likely to lead to lasting abstinence than cutting down first, even for smokers who initially prefer to quit by gradual reduction.

PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: British Heart Foundation.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-92
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Volume164
Issue number9
Early online date15 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016

Keywords

  • Journal Article

Sustainable Development Goals