Smoking cessation medications

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Conflict of interest with regard to government smoking cessation recommendations

A February 7, 2007 Wall Street Journal article titled Nicotine Fix: Behind Antismoking Policy, Influence of Drug Industry Government Guidelines Don't Push Cold Turkey; Advisers' Company Ties by Kevin Helliker focuses on the corporate origins of payments to experts contributing to government guidelines on smoking cessation. (For subscribers to the WSJ Online there is a URL at [1])

Study Results

As far as smoking cessation that was still in effect for an individual ex-smoker after 3 months was concerned, there were no significant differences between those who had quit 'cold turkey' without any drug assistance and those who relied on doctor-prescribed 'smoking cessation' medications. After 9 months, however, the numbers of those who had not returned to smoking were far higher among the cold-turkey quitters in the study than among those in the study who were still relying on these medications to stay tobacco-free. (The WSJ article illustrates this with a small data table.)

No conclusion was advanced as to whether the medication-taking participants had simply transferred their dependence to the nicotine released by the drugs. However, the divergent results for the cold-turkey quitters — presumably no longer ingesting any nicotine whatever, or at any habituating, or re-habituating, frequency— strongly suggest a need for research to establish if these medications are essentially an adaptation among nicotine-addicted smokers of the methadone maintenance approach used with heroin addicts.

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