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Randomised controlled trial
In smokers who lapse during nicotine patch treatment, continued patch use increases the likelihood of recovering abstinence
  1. Tim Coleman
  1. Division of Primary Care, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Tim Coleman
    , Division of Primary Care, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG72RD, UK; tim.coleman{at}

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Commentary on Ferguson SG, Gitchell JG, Shiffman S. Continuing to wear nicotine patches after smoking lapses promotes recovery of abstinence. Addiction 2012;107:1349–53.

Implications for practice and research

  • Quitting smokers who use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) are often advised to stop using this if they restart smoking; quitters often discontinue NRT after brief smoking lapses.

  • Quitters who continue using NRT during brief lapses may be more likely to return to abstinence.

  • Treating lapses with NRT probably encourages short-term cessation; research should investigate this further and test the impact on smokers’ long-term abstinence and health gain.


Smoking is the greatest reversible cause of morbidity and mortality; cessation is the most important lifestyle change for improving future health. NRT is the most widely used cessation treatment, but 75% of those who attempt cessation will restart smoking within 1 year.1 Treatments which stop brief lapses from becoming chronic relapse to smoking could increase treatment success.


Ferguson and colleagues conducted subgroup analyses of data from a …

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  • Competing interests In the last 5 years, TC has been paid to attend two expert symposia arranged by Pierre Fabre Laboratories who manufactures nicotine replacement therapy.