In Korea, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been widely used in government-led, public health center-based smoking cessation services since 2004 and varenicline has become available from 2007 but without reimbursement. In this study which used a series of nationwide cross-sectional surveys in Korea performed from 2005 to 2011, we examined the prevalence of smoking cessation medication use and factors associated with it.


We analysed data from the third to fifth waves of Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005–2011). Prevalence of each smoking cessation method use was calculated for each year, and its secular trend was tested by multivariate logistic regression.


Among smokers who made quit attempt during the previous year, 15.7% had used smoking cessation medications,15.3% had used NRT, and 0.7% had used prescription medication. There was a significant increasing trend for NRT use (P<0.001) during the study period, but use of prescription medication did not show any increase over time (P = 0.654) Education on smoking prevention and cessation was associated with smoking cessation medications use (OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.58–2.75).


While the use of NRT has increased over years through government-sponsored smoking cessation programs, use of prescription drugs remained very low and flat probably due to lack of reimbursement. Education of smokers about effective smoking cessation methods and change in reimbursement policy are suggested to stimulate evidence-based smoking cessation practice.

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