Pill helps smokers quit gradually

Smokers who have trouble kicking the habit cold turkey may have more success if they use a nicotine addiction pill that helps them stop smoking more gradually, concludes new research at the Mayo Clinic.

The study tested the effectiveness of the pill Chantix--or Champix, as it's known in other parts of the world--on 1,510 smokers using 61 medical centers in 10 different countries. Patients were separated into groups that either received the drug or a placebo, and were monitored for 24 weeks.

The goal of the study, researchers said, was to have cigarette use decrease by half after four weeks, by 75 percent after eight weeks, and completely stop after 12 weeks. The researchers found that those who took the pill were significantly more successful at quitting by the end of the trial than those taking the placebo--27 percent of the people who took the pill didn’t return to smoking, compared to 10 percent of the placebo group.

Researchers say the study is the first of it’s kind to test smokers who weren’t ready to quit. The results, they suggest, show strong support for changing clinical practices to incorporate gradual cessation techniques, paired with medication, to successfully help smokers quit. This particularly may help patients who have had a hard time quitting in the past.

But the researchers did note the potential ‘black box’ side effects associated with Chantix, such as drowsiness, erratic behavior, and suicidal thoughts. Patients in the study also displayed other minor side effects such as nausea, insomnia, and weight gain.

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Sourced from: Reuters Health, Gradual smoking cessation may be possible with nicotine addiction pill