Nicotine gum and patches are a lot more effective in clinical trials than they are in the real world, according to researchers at Harvard's Center for Global Tobacco Control. In the most thorough study yet of nicotine replacement therapy, researchers found that people who use the products are just as likely to relapse as people who try to quit smoking without them, the New York Times reports. The researchers interviewed quitters at two-year intervals and found that around a third of them relapsed.
"We were surprised and, quite frankly, disappointed by the results, but it is real," the center's director says. "It showed clearly that while the NRT products can help with quitting and withdrawal over two weeks to six months, they are not really designed to help with relapsing." The study's authors say their findings suggest that federal health care money used to provide NRT might be better spent on educational campaigns. (Read more smoking stories.)