Adolescent Smoking Cessation With Bupropion: The Role of Adherence

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While many medications can be effective aids to quitting tobacco, real world adherence to smoking cessation medications may render a potentially effective medication ineffective. The present study investigated the role of adherence on treatment outcomes in a bupropion dose-response study among adolescent smokers trying to quit smoking.


Three hundred twelve adolescent boys (n = 143) and girls (n = 169) between the ages of 14–17 were enrolled in the study, and were randomly assigned to use either 300mg, 150mg or placebo bupropion to quit smoking. Among the eligibility criterion, participants had to smoke at least six cigarettes per day, be motivated to quit smoking (self report), have an exhaled carbon monoxide level greater than or equal to 10 ppm, and report at least two previous quit attempts. Adherence to medication was determined by both self-report and actual counts of unused medication and empty medication packaging. Smoking status was determined by a combination of self-report and biochemical verification (breath carbon monoxide and urine cotinine).


Cotinine-confirmed quit rates were significantly higher as a function of high adherence (20.69%) relative to low adherence (0.00%) in the 300-mg Bupropion Sustained Release group. Overall adherence in all study conditions in this highly controlled study was high (74%), but was significantly lower in non-white participants.


Effectiveness of bupropion for adolescent smoking cessation is contingent on achieving high rates of medication adherence, but considerable variations in adherence impacted outcomes.


Few studies have assessed the safety and efficacy of medications to help adolescent smokers quit, and we conducted one such study assessing bupropion. In this analysis of that original study, we assess the role of adherence in use of medication and quit rates. We found that adherence was related to outcomes, particularly in the 300-mg dose of bupropion.

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