New findings from the Lung Health Study (LHS) show that intensive smoking cessation programs can significantly improve long-term survival among smokers. Supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), LHS is a landmark study that differs from many other studies of cigarette smoking in that it was a randomized, controlled clinical trial -- considered the gold standard in determining cause and effect; furthermore, the size and duration of LHS enabled it to more accurately measure the risks associated with smoking than other clinical trials. NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
LHS followed nearly 5,900 middle-aged smokers who had mild to moderately abnormal lung function but were otherwise healthy when they enrolled in the study. Participants were assigned to either a 10-week intensive smoking cessation program or to usual care (no intervention). The intervention program included behavior modification and use of nicotine gum, with a continuing five-year maintenance program to minimize relapse. After five years, approximately 22 percent of the participants in the smoking cessation program were sustained quitters, with nearly 90 percent of them continuing their success after 11 years. About 5 percent of those who did not receive the intervention were sustained quitters after five years. After an average of 14.5 years, the death rate among those in the smoking cessation program was about 15 percent lower compared to those who received usual care. The results are published in the February 15, 2005, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"This study shows the substantial impact smoking cessation programs can have on public health, even if small numbers of participants successfully quit," said Gail Weinmann, MD, director of the NHLBI Airway Biology and Disease Program.
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