What is the role of medications in smoking cessation?

Updated: May 25, 2018
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Numerous effective medications are available for tobacco dependence, and clinicians should encourage their use by all patients attempting to quit smoking except when medically contraindicated or with specific populations for which there is insufficient evidence of effectiveness (ie, pregnant women, smokeless tobacco users, light smokers, and adolescents).

The following first-line medications (five nicotine and two non-nicotine) reliably increase long-term smoking abstinence rates:

  • Bupropion sustained release (SR)
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine inhaler
  • Nicotine lozenge
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • Nicotine patch
  • Varenicline

The combination of counseling and medication is more effective than either alone. Thus, clinicians should encourage all individuals making a quit attempt to use both counseling and medication.

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