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Treating smoking like a chronic disease helps smokers quit, a new study suggests. Providing long-term assistance to smokers, similar to the approach used in treating high blood pressure and diabetes, increases smoking cessation rates, the study found.

Lead researcher Anne Joseph of the University of Minnesota told USA Today that many doctors do not provide enough help to smokers who have relapsed. “We often view relapse as failure and need to build in interim goals until success is achieved,” she said.

The study included 443 smokers, and compared quit rates of those who received standard treatment—eight weeks of counseling with nicotine replacement therapy—to those of smokers who had 48 weeks of counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. The researchers followed the smokers for 18 months, and found those receiving the 48-week treatment were about 75 percent more successful in quitting smoking. The results appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A second study appearing in the same journal found smokers who were not motivated to stop smoking tried quitting more often if they had nicotine-replacement therapy, in addition to other treatment.

The researchers followed 849 smokers who said they did not want to quit. They were divided into two groups. Both groups practiced quitting, but only one group also received nicotine replacement therapy. After 12 weeks, 32 percent of those who received nicotine replacement therapy had tried quitting, compared with 23 percent of those who did not receive nicotine treatment. After six months, 49 percent of those who received nicotine replacement therapy had tried quitting, compared with 40 percent in the non-nicotine replacement group.

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