Moreover, smokers who had cut down their smoking by one-third at week two were nearly 10 times more likely to have quit totally at four weeks.
Two decades ago, we doctors were concerned about smoking at the same time as using the nicotine gum and patch. While no one can honestly tell you that nicotine is without health effects, we were concerned back then about possible heart attacks.
Nonetheless, in this study, serious adverse effects from smoking and using the nicotine gum did not occur. While nearly half of the nicotine gum patients experienced some form of a side effect, most of these were mild, and common with nicotine gum use -- such as nausea, hiccups and heartburn.
This confirms what we have known since the 1990s from studies in which nicotine gum was found to be safe and unrelated to any cardiovascular illnesses or other serous side effects.
The authors of the current study concluded that "smokers wanting to quit by gradual reduction can substantially increase their success by using nicotine gum [and that] nicotine gum helped smokers reduce smoking, achieve initial abstinence and maintain abstinence."
You might be an "I've-tried-everything" smoker who wants to quit, but have you tried this?
Cut out one cigarette each day and add one piece of nicotine gum each day.
See what happens.
Dr. John Spangler is director of tobacco intervention programs and a professor of family medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.