'Cut down to quit' with nicotine replacement therapies in smoking cessation: a systematic review of effectiveness and economic analysis

Authors: Wang D, Connock M, Barton P, Fry-Smith A, Aveyard P, Moore D

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 12 Issue: 2

Publication date: January 2008

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hta12020


Wang D, Connock M, Barton P, Fry-Smith A, Aveyard P, Moore D.'Cut down to quit' with nicotine replacement therapies in smoking cessation: a systematic review of effectiveness and economic analysis. Health Technol Assess 2008;12(2)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (4.5 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact nihredit@southampton.ac.uk.

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for 'cut down to quit' (CDTQ) smoking.

Data sources

Major electronic databases were searched up to July 2006.

Review methods

Data from studies meeting the criteria were reviewed and analysed. A decision analytical model was constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of CDTQ from the NHS perspective.


No systematic reviews of the effectiveness of CDTQ and no randomised controlled trials (RCTs) specifically addressing CDTQ were identified. Seven randomised placebo-controlled trials satisfied the inclusion criteria; six of these were industry sponsored. However, sustained smoking cessation was only reported as a secondary outcome in these trials and required commencement of cessation within the first 6 weeks of treatment. Meta-analyses of the study level results demonstrated statistically significant superiority of NRT compared with placebo. Individual patient data from unpublished reports of five RCTs were used to calculate sustained abstinence of at least 6 months starting at any time during the treatment period (generally 12 months). From this the meta-analysis indicated statistically significant superiority of NRT versus placebo [relative risk 2.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.34 to 3.15]. The proportions achieving this outcome across all five RCTs were 6.75% of participants in receipt of NRT and 3.29% of those receiving placebo. The number-needed-to-treat was 29. This measure of sustained abstinence was used for economic modelling. No existing economic analyses of CDTQ were identified. A de novo decision analytic model was constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of making CDTQ with NRT available for smokers unwilling or unable to attempt an abrupt quit. The outcome measure was expected quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). The model results suggest that CDTQ with NRT delivers incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) ranging from around 1500 pounds/QALY to 7700 pounds/QALY depending on the age at which smoking cessation was achieved and the modes of CDTQ delivery. Assuming applicability to a single population, CDTQ was not cost-effective compared with abrupt quitting. If CDTQ with NRT were to be offered on the NHS as a matter of policy, the base-case results suggest that it would only be effective and cost-effective if a substantial majority of the people attempting CDTQ with NRT were those who would otherwise make no attempt to quit. This result is robust to considerable variation in the forms of CDTQ with NRT offered, and to the assumptions about QALY gained per quit success.


Meta-analysis of RCT evidence of quit rates in NRT-supported smoking reduction studies indicates that NRT is an effective intervention in achieving sustained smoking abstinence for smokers who declare unwillingness or inability to attempt an abrupt quit. The 12-month sustained abstinence success rate in this population (approximately 5.3% with NRT versus approximately 2.6% with placebo) is considerably less than that documented for an abrupt quit NRT regime in smokers willing to attempt an abrupt quit with NRT (which according to other systematic reviews is around 16% with NRT versus 10% with placebo). Most of the evidence of effectiveness of CDTQ came from trials that required considerable patient-investigator contact. Therefore, for CDTQ with NRT to generate similar abstinence rates for this recalcitrant population in a real-world setting would probably require a similar mode of delivery. The modelling undertaken, which was based on reasonable assumptions about costs, benefits and success rates, suggests that CDTQ is highly cost-effective compared with no quit attempt. CDTQ remains cost-effective if dilution from abrupt quitting forms a small proportion of CDTQ attempts. In an alternative analysis in which smokers who switch from an abrupt quit to CDTQ retain the success rate of abrupt quitters, all forms of CDTQ appear cost-effective. Randomised trials in recalcitrant smokers allowing head-to-head comparison of CDTQ delivered with various modalities would be informative.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.