Smoking-Cessation Products: Snuffing the Habit

SEPTEMBER 08, 2015
Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh
The millions of individuals who attempt to quit smoking each year would probably agree that it is often easier said than done and, at times, can be challenging and overwhelming.1
Pharmacists are in a pivotal position to assist patients in finding the most efficacious smoking-cessation methods and properly selecting OTC smokingcessation products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 70% of adult smokers in the United States want to quit smoking and millions more have attempted to quit.2 Moreover, the American Cancer Society reports that an estimated 4% to 7% of individuals are able to quit smoking without the use of smoking-cessation products.3 Results from one study show that 95% of “cold turkey” quitters start smoking again within a 6-to-12-month time frame, and patients who receive tobacco-cessation intervention from a health care provider are 1.7 to 2.2 times more likely to quit smoking and remain tobacco free for more than 5 months compared with those who quit without intervention.4

Statistics from the CDC for 2015 show that more than 16 million Americans are living with health complications or medical conditions related to smoking and that smoking is responsible for cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and pulmonary diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.5 Smoking is also associated with decreased fertility in females, osteoporosis, periodontitis, and cataracts.4 Annually in the United States, tobacco use is responsible for approximately 480,000 deaths (or 1 of every 5 deaths).5 Furthermore, an estimated 41,000 of these tobacco-related deaths are the result of exposure to secondhand smoke and, on average, smokers die a decade earlier than nonsmokers do.5 The CDC states that smoking can adversely affect almost every organ system in the body and can contribute to the manifestation of various medical conditions.2

Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation
Because smoking cessation often requires some degree of motivation, individuals may be inclined to quit if they are aware of the range of associated health benefits. Once an individual quits smoking, he or she may notice some immediate benefits, while others may become more apparent over time (Table 12,6,7).2,6,7 Examples of these benefits may include2,6,7:
  • Better breath
  • Stained teeth whiten
  • Fingers and fingernails become less yellow
  • Food tastes better or taste perception improves
  • Sense of smell returns to normal
  • Everyday activities (eg, climbing stairs, light housework) no longer cause shortness of breath
Table 1: Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation6-8
Smoking Cessation :
  • May significantly reduce the risk of premature death.
  • May decrease the risk for lung cancer and other cancers.
  • Reduces the risk of developing COPD and other respiratory symptoms
  • Coronary heart disease risks are significantly reduced within 1 to 2 years of smoking cessation.
  • Decreases the risks for stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Improves circulation and lung function by up to 30%.
  • Smoking cessation before or during pregnancy may reduce the risk for low birth weight baby, preterm delivery, and reduced fertility in women.
  • Ten years after quitting smoking, one's risk for lung cancer decreases by 50%