Expert: Nicotine Replacement Therapies Only Part of Physical, Mental Challenge of Quitting Smoking

Lee Cohen, chairman of the Department of Psychology, (806) 742-3711 ext. 224,


A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Boston found that nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum or patches are no more effective in helping people quit smoking than quitting alone.


Lee Cohen, a smoking cessation expert and clinical psychologist, can explain what smokers should think about before quitting as well as what makes a successful quitting attempt. Though nicotine replacement therapies are recommended by clinical practice guidelines, Cohen is proponent of confectionary chewing gum and other healthy alternatives.  And while nicotine replacement therapies might help some people, they are not a permanent solution or guaranteed to take all cravings away.



Lee Cohen, chairman of the Department of Psychology, (806) 742-3711 ext. 224,


Talking Points

  • Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.
  • Usually, people require a significant reason to make a change to quit smoking, such as a health reason or becoming a parent or grandparent.
  • The exact personality factors that lead to quitting success are not well understood.
  • Smokers often don’t succeed in quitting on the first several tries. The average number of quit attempts is seven before someone is successful.
  • Only 7 percent will be successful in the first try.
  • Medications can help, but quitters should look at both psychological as well as physical issues.
  • Quitting smoking is ultimately up to the individual.



  • “Quitting any addictive drug is complicated. With smoking, it’s even more so because it’s a legal drug. It’s associated with so many things. Smokers often wonder, ‘What am I going to do with all this time? How am I going to drink my coffee without a cigarette? How am I going to eat my meal without a cigarette? It’s part of everything they do, which complicates quitting.”
  • “It’s very normal for smokers not to succeed quitting on the first several tries. Whether you’re ultimately successful, you’ve learned something for the next time you make that quit attempt. It’s important to look at what it was about previous attempts that led you to fail”
  • “It’s standard now to offer smokers medication. But medication won’t be enough. It’s not as simple as just slipping a patch on. People should get into some sort of group with people they can talk to. It’s very interesting how someone who tries and fails numerous times can be very successful when they’re talking to people who understand.”