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Efficacy section last updated: February 2017

Suggested citation style: Efficacy section, Key finding on NRT and smoking cessation,, accessed 18.03.17.


The purpose of the efficacy section is to provide information on effective treatments for tobacco dependence. The key findings are based on the results of systematic reviews of the evidence from randomized, controlled trials of treatment interventions. They highlight those interventions that have been shown to produce a sustained increase in quit rates 6 months or more after treatment. Recommendations are based on clinical practice guidelines and meta-analyses. Interventions range from population-wide, large-scale interventions, to intensive, expert-delivered treatments. Interventions may also address smokers with different degrees of readiness to quit.

The readiness of smokers to attempt to stop, and to seek help, is influenced by social norms, health information, and tobacco control policies in their communities. Providing access to effective treatments is one part of an effective tobacco control policy. Policy interventions that increase quit attempts or increase access to treatment are described in the Policy section.

As with most behavioural disorders, most of those who improve, i.e. stop smoking, do so without formal treatment. This does not undermine the importance of making effective treatments available and recommending smokers to stop at the earliest possible age. Successful self-quitting often relies on strategies that are now incorporated into formal treatment programmes. Treatments have not always been available or have been difficult to access, thus it is to be expected that unassisted quitting is common. Most recent analyses conclude that increasing access to treatment substantially increases the number of successful quitters. logo
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