Monday, December 30, 2013

Most Effective Method To Quit Smoking

Although there are many medications now on the market to help people stop smoking, they all work differently. Nicotine Replacement Therapy medications have fewer and less serious side effects than the newer medications, which come in pill form. Nicotine replacement products come in many forms, some of which are very slow to enter the bloodstream. Based on the number of its side effects and its ability to provide nicotine to the bloodstream quickly, a nicotine nasal spray, combined with smoking cessation counseling, seems to provide the most effective way to stop smoking.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reported in May 2008 that seven FDA-approved medications "dramatically increase the success of quitting." They are bupropion SR, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine lozenge, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patch and varenicline.

According to the AHRQ, which based its findings on more than 8,000 research articles, counseling--either alone or together with medication--also raises quitters' success rates. The research found that quitlines are particularly effective, and can provide services to a large number of people.

The national quitline access number is (800) QUIT-NOW.


The Mayo Clinic reports on its website that varenicline, marketed as Chantix, has been the basis of several studies. In all of them, it performed better than a placebo. One study found that varenicline was more effective than bupropion (Zyban) for the first 12 weeks, while another determined that it was better than bupropion for up to a year. Still another researcher reported that varenicline was better than the nicotine patch at helping smokers to quit. But only 23 percent of participants in the largest study were still not smoking after one year. No studies have been done comparing varenicline with other nicotine-replacement medications, such as lozenges, nasal sprays and gums. On July 1, 2009, the FDA issued new warnings regarding both varenicline and bupropion, saying that these medications have been linked with behavioral changes "such as hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions."

According to the American Lung Association, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is effective at helping smokers to quit. Nicotine patches deliver a steady dose of the drug into the bloodstream, rather than the quick "hit" of smoking a cigarette. Nicotine gums and lozenges, while providing a somewhat quicker release of nicotine, still take up to 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. Nicotine nasal sprays provide a faster "hit" because the nicotine enters the bloodstream by way of the membranes in the nose. Nicotine inhalers must be used for 20 minutes continuously, and the nicotine enters the bloodstream through the mouth, rather than the lung, taking much longer than a cigarette.

Pros and Cons

All stop-smoking medications have side effects. Chantix and Zyban, as noted, have rather serious psychological side effects, as well as possibly making driving unsafe. The nicotine patch can't be removed at will or used just to replace a cigarette; it has to be worn all day. It can cause irritated skin, nausea, dizziness, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. Nicotine gum can reduce cravings, but can't be chewed like chewing gum; it must be "parked" in the mouth to release the nicotine slowly, or it will cause upset stomach and nicotine cravings. Nicotine lozenges also release the drug slowly, and can't be bitten or chewed, which might cause heartburn or indigestion. They can irritate the throat and make teeth and gums sore. Nicotine inhalers, as noted, must be puffed at least 80 times over 20 minutes, are very slow-acting, and can cause nose and throat irritation. Nicotine nasal sprays are quick-acting, and their main side effects are irritation of the nose and throat.


Chantix and Zyban produce serious psychological side effects, as well as possibly preventing safe driving. Nicotine patches, while effective, can cause a number of side effects and must be worn continuously. Nicotine gums and lozenges are slow-acting and can cause stomach aches and indigestion if used improperly. Nicotine inhalers are very slow-acting and can cause nose and throat irritation.

Nicotine nasal sprays are the fastest-acting medications with the fewest side effects. Combined with counseling, using these sprays seems to be the most promising route to successfully stopping smoking.

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