Background: Acupuncture is a popular therapy for smoking cessation. The data on effectiveness are, however, contradictory. Objective: A best evidence synthesis, avoiding the drawbacks of a classical review as well as those of a meta-analysis, might clarify the issue. Data sources: A computer search of databases held by MEDLINE, the British Library and CISCOM, and references given in the publications retrieved. Study selection and analysis: Sixteen controlled studies were found, of which seven were chosen for this ‘best evidence synthesis’ by defined criteria: single-blind design, pre-allocation concealment of randomisation, appropriate choice of control points and more than 25 subjects in each group. Main results: Six out of the seven studies demonstrate that active acupuncture does not yield cessation rates that are significantly different from placebo or sham acupuncture. Conclusion: Acupuncture for smoking cessation does not produce an effect greater than placebo.

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