Researchers’ tick for nicotine inhaler
Smokers who use a nicotine inhaler are twice as likely to successfully quit, researchers at the University of Otago in Wellington, have found. The researchers developed and tested a novel nicotine inhaler to find out whether it helps smokers give up.
Study participants were randomly assigned to receive a nicotine inhaler plus a nicotine patch, or a placebo inhaler plus a nicotine patch. The results were published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Study team leader Professor Julian Crane said the findings were the first evidence that inhaled nicotine from a simple standard inhaler was highly effective and substantially increased a smoker’s chances of quitting compared to the best current nicotine replacement treatment.
‘‘Currently most smokers use nicotine patches to help them stop smoking,’’ he said.
‘‘This study shows that if you add a nicotine inhaler to a nicotine patch, it doubles the chances of quitting over a nicotine patch alone.’’
Although there is considerable interest in the use of e-cigarettes to help smokers give up tobacco, many countries, including New Zealand, are hesitant to introduce them to the market because they are largely unregulated.
‘‘There is considerable debate about whether inhaled nicotine is helpful for people who wish to stop smoking.
‘‘This is the first study to show that inhaled nicotine from a metered dose inhaler in the context of a smoker wanting to stop doubles their chances of quitting.’’
The nicotine inhaler gives a metered dose of nicotine and offers an alternative therapeutic option for inhaled nicotine, using a standard device that has been used for many decades for treatment of asthma.
‘‘Unlike electronic cigarettes, the inhaler has no physical associations to smoking itself.
‘‘It also has benefits in that it is much less likely to be used inappropriately to administer other drugs, given that it is a completely sealed unit.’’
‘‘New Zealand has been a world leader in tobacco control public policy and this homegrown development offers a world-first opportunity to help the 80 per cent or more of smokers who want to quit achieve their aims.’’
The researchers are investigating how to make the inhaler available to all smokers who would like to use it.