Get access

How confident should we be that smoking cessation treatments work?


John R. Hughes, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, UHC Campus, Mail Stop#482, 1 So Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05401, USA. E-mail:


Aim  To determine (i) the concordance among recent meta-analyses about which treatments for smoking cessation are efficacious; (ii) the similarity of odds ratios (ORs) across meta-analyses; and (iii) among the validated treatments, the proportion of studies that found higher quit rates.

Methods  Computerized literature search for meta-analyses during the last 5 years in PubMed and PsychInfo. Data were extracted from summary tables of overall effect of validated treatments.

Results  Fourteen meta-analyses agreed 100% on the presence/absence of efficacy of 17 proven treatments. The ORs differed by <0.5 in 72/76 of the comparisons of meta-analyses. Among 37 comparisons in 33 comparisons, >85% of the studies reported numerical superiority for the active treatment.

Conclusions  The efficacy of treatments for smoking cessation are extremely reliable. This argues for inclusion of treatment as an essential feature of tobacco control and clinical practice and argues for reimbursement of smoking cessation treatments on a par with other medical and behavioral disorders.