How Do We Know If A Cessation Technique Really Works?

I copied my response to a comment left by a reader about my Bogus Quit Smoking Programs post. I think the issue deserves its own posting.

Smoker's Edge seems to be akin to using a piece of sucking candy when you get a craving. This approach may be of benefit as an adjunct to a proven method but it should not be advertised as a stand alone method.

This raises an important issue. Namely, how do we judge a product that claims to be able to help you quit smoking? How do we know the product is safe? How do we know it really works?

The only way to really know is to perform what's called a clinical trial. Basically, in a clinical trial a group of people use the product and another group uses a placebo. Nobody in the groups know if they are using the real thing or the placebo. If the people who used the product quit more than the people who used the placebo, we have a winner.

As far as I know, Smoker's Edge has not done a proper clinical trial. They may have some word of mouth reports, but those are not considered valid because they are prone to error.

That's not to say that the product doesn't work. What we can say is that there is no scientific evidence that it does. It's clearly important when dealing with what is literally and life and death situation that we use methods that are proven to work.

To this point, we all know people who have tried to quit and were unsuccessful. Next thing, they have lung cancer and we are dealing with a huge problem. Whose to say when that cancer developed? Maybe it could have been avoided were the person to have used a proven cessation technique and been successful. Maybe by using something that was not proven to work they ended up smoking long enough for cancer to develop.

When it comes to quitting there is a lot on the line. My advice is to stick with what's ben shown to work.

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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.