Is the use of NRT for cutting down and
for periods of temporary abstinence
associated with desire and intention
to quit and self-efficacy?
Emma Beard and Robert West
PhD Research, University College London, UK
Background: A key question is whether the use of NRT for harm reduction
has any effect on cessation rates. Some argue that it may promote
quitting through enhanced self-efficacy and motivation, while others
that it might deter quitting by leading smokers to be less concerned
about the effects of smoking on their health. Evidence from RCTs supports
the prior argument. However, it is unclear how far these findings
generalise to smokers in the general population.
Methods: Data was used from the Smoking Toolkit Study, a crosssectional
household survey of adults aged 16+. 12,221 participants were
recruited and asked whether they were cutting down, if so whether they
used NRT, and whether they used NRT for periods of enforced abstinence.
A number of demographic variables and nicotine dependence, as well
as desire and intention to quit and self-efficacy, were assessed.
Findings: 53% of smokers reported they were cutting down,
14% that they were cutting down with NRT and 14% were using NRT
for temporary abstinence. Use of NRT to cut down and for temporary
abstinence was strongly positively associated with desire and intention
to quit. No significant association was found with self-efficacy.
Conclusion: These data establish a prima facie case that the use of
NRT for harm reduction may promote rather than deter quitting,
through increasing an individuals’ motivation and intention to quit
but not through boosting self-efficacy.
Source of funding: UKCTCS and Cancer Research UK
Declaration of interest: Robert West undertakes research and consultancy
and receives fees for speaking from companies that develop and
manufacture smoking cessation medications. He also has a share of a
patent for a novel nicotine delivery device. His funding is primarily from
Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health. He is a trustee of
the stop-smoking charity, QUIT
About the presenter
Emma Beard graduated with a BSc in Experimental Psychology in 2007
from the University of Bristol. She then attained a Masters in Health
Psychology with Distinction in 2008 from Kings College London and is
currently undertaking a PhD at University College London in the
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Her thesis is looking at
the impact of harm reduction using NRT on subsequent cessation
attempts and is funded by the UKCTCS.