Efficacy of Acupuncture Is Noninferior to Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Tobacco Cessation

Results of a Prospective, Randomized, Active-Controlled Open-Label Trial
Published:November 23, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2017.11.015


      We designed and conducted this multicenter randomized active-controlled open-label trial to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture, auricular point pressing, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) on tobacco cessation in the Chinese population.


      This randomized controlled trial was conducted in seven hospitals in China between October 2013 and February 2016. Eligible participants were recruited and randomly assigned to receive acupuncture or auricular point pressing or NRT via a central randomization system with a 1:1:1 ratio. All treatment was given for a total of 8 weeks, and follow-up visit was at 16 weeks. The primary outcome measure was carbon monoxide (CO)-confirmed 24-h point abstinence rate (<10 parts per million), 24 weeks after quit day.


      A total of 300 participants were recruited and 195 participants finished, with a dropout rate of 35.00%. Two cases of adverse events in the acupuncture group and 2 cases in the NRT group were observed. The CO-confirmed 24-h point abstinence rate was 43.00% at 24 weeks in the acupuncture group, which was similar to 44.00% in the NRT group ( P > .05), but significantly higher than the 30.00% in the auricular point group ( P < .05). At 24 weeks, the Fagerstrom Nicotine Dependence Test and the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale scores in the acupuncture group were significantly lower than those in the auricular point group and in the NRT group ( P < .05). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed the time to relapse for acupuncture (44.12 days) was insignificantly longer than NRT (41.18 days), but significantly longer than auricular point pressing (29.53 days).


      We found acupuncture was safe and a possible treatment for tobacco cessation, but it requires further study to establish its role.

      Trial Registry

      Chinese Clinical Trial Registry; No.: ChiCTR-TRC-13003544; URL: http://www.chictr.org.cn/abouten.aspx

      Key Words


      FTND ( Fagerstrom Nicotine Dependence Test), MNWS ( Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale), NRT ( nicotine replacement therapy)
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