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How to Keep Up With the Scientific Literature On Smoking Cessation

Several new databases and methods have made it much easier to keep yourself up-to-date on scientific evidence for the many claims one hears. Below I review my favorites (I apologize to our Canadian readers as this will be US-centric)

First, the “bible” for me continues to be the USPHS “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence” which can be found at along with brief clinician guides, patient guides, etc. One caveat is that it is based on meta-analyses conducted in 2007 so is somewhat out of date. Another guideline for smokers with psychiatric or alcohol/drug problems is the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline for Substance Abuse ( that has a good section on treatment in this group of smokers.

A more up-to-date source is the Cochrane Library ( which is a set of meta-analyses for all medical disorders. It contains 176 meta­analyses concerning smoking. For searching I suggest using the following generic keywords or stems (tobacco, smok*, nicotin*, cigar*). The reviews include a “plain language summary” that is often helpful. Every year I search for “new” or “updated” reviews.

For websites, I prefer the website because its run by the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and has both clinical summaries (not just conclusions based on meta-analyses) and recent updates about smoking cessation. Another website that focuses on new findings is supported by a nonprofit organization that puts out informative monthly newsletters you can sign up for.  Also, I like the ACCP website ( as a good overview.

The treatment manuals I like best are Abrams et al The Tobacco Dependence Treatment Handbook and McEwen et al Manual of Smoking Cessation. Both are excellent with lots of practical, hands-on tips. Unfortunately, they are expensive (> $40 USD).

If you are more ambitious, I suggest you go to PubMed (, the database for the US National Library of Medicine. I suggest you go to the “advanced search” and enter the keywords “nicotin* OR tobacco OR cigar* OR smok*”, limit your search to titles of articles, and to review articles, guidelines, or meta-analyses. Then save that search and the computer will forward you to the MyNCBI website ( and from there you can instruct the website to send you such articles that appeared in the last 30 days once per month.. If you limit it to reviews/meta-analyses, you will receive only 1-5 articles/month. And don’t worry, some months you will receive none. Or of course, you could set to once every 3 or 6 months instead. Be sure and check out the “related articles” list as that often gives a better paper than the one you found.