Estimating the risks and benefits of nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation in the United States

Benjamin J. Apelberg, Georgiana Onicescu, Erika Avila-Tang, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives. To compare potential population-wide benefits and risks, we examined the potential impact of increased nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) use for smoking cessation on future US mortality. Methods. We developed a simulation model incorporating a Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, with data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey and Cancer Prevention Study II. We estimated the number of avoided premature deaths from smoking attributable to increased NRT use, before and after incorporating assumptions about NRT harm. Results. We estimate that a gradual increase in the proportion of NRT-aided quit attempts to 100% by 2025 would lead to 40000 (95% credible interval=31000, 50000) premature deaths avoided over a 20-year period. Most avoided deaths would be attributable to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. After we incorporated assumptions about potential risk from long-term NRT, the estimate of avoided premature deaths from all causes declined to 32000. Conclusions. Even after we assumed some harm from long-term NRT use, the benefits from increased cessation success far outweigh the risks. However, the projected reduction in premature mortality still reflects a small portion of the tobacco-related deaths expected over a 20-year period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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