PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the Western world. Because of its highly addictive nature it is very difficult for most smokers to quit without assistance. Acupuncture, hypnosis, nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine sprays and inhalers have all been used as smoking cessation aids with varying degrees of success. Now researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare report that a nicotine-containing polacrilex lozenge is quite effective in helping both low- and high-dependence smokers quit the habit.
The 1-year trial involved a total of 1818 smokers. The participants were classified as high-dependence if
they had their first cigarette in the morning within 30 minutes of awakening and as low-dependence if they
were able to go longer than 30 minutes without that first cigarette. The high-dependence group was
randomized to receive 4 mg nicotine lozenges (1 lozenge every 1-2 hours for the first 6 weeks then tapering
off to 3-6 lozenges a day by week 12) or placebo for 6 months. The low-dependence group received 2 mg
nicotine lozenges or placebo. After 6 weeks, 46% of the lozenge users in the 2 mg group had been
abstinent for at least 28 days as compared to 30% in the placebo group. The abstinence rate in the 4 mg
group was 49% versus 21% in the placebo group. Increased abstinence was maintained even after one
year since quitting and at least 6 months without lozenges. The researchers conclude that physicians
should suggest the nicotine lozenge as an option in achieving smoking cessation. NOTE: This study was
funded by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.