New nicotine replacement products offer hope to smokers

Smokers have given the thumbs up to two nicotine replacement products which may become more commonly available, following research from the University of Otago.
The products come in small sachets which smokers keep in their mouth, allowing nicotine -- the addictive ingredient in tobacco -- to be rapidly released.

The researchers are also launching a second more ambitious study which will aim to test an innovative new mouth spray to be used every time a smoker has the desire to light up.

"The new Zonnic nicotine mouth spray study is a great chance to not only stop smoking altogether, but also to help other smokers who are desperate to kick the habit and haven't succeeded by going cold turkey or using nicotine patches on their own," Otago University's Wellington researcher Brent Caldwell said today.

The first nicotine replacement therapy study results, which focussed on small nicotine sachets, found most smokers preferred the new products, snus and Zonnic, to the nicotine gum available from pharmacies and doctors.

Only 10% of people who used nicotine replacement therapy actually stopped smoking long-term and around 5000 people died each year in New Zealand from smoking-related disease, Dr Caldwell said.

Snus is Swedish oral tobacco in a sachet which is placed between the cheek and gum. Zonnic is in a similar sachet, but contains nicotine and peppermint or fruit flavouring instead of tobacco.

The researchers said both had potential as therapies.

"These look like attractive and effective options to help smokers reduce smoking or quit as they're easy to take, people like the impact and they suppress withdrawal symptoms," Dr Caldwell said.

The study investigated 63 smokers who used the new products and gum for two weeks each, measuring reduction in smoking, the desire to smoke and the impact on withdrawal symptoms.

Zonnic and snus had significantly fewer side effects than gum, particularly gastrointestinal. Participants also tended to use more Zonnic than gum or snus which explained the greater reduction in smoking using this product, Dr Caldwell said.

Smoking was significantly reduced through the use of all three products, he said.

The new study was looking for 1600 volunteers in Wellington and Christchurch to take part in a trial to test the effectiveness of Zonnic mouth spray, to be used in addition to the normally available nicotine patches. Participants will be given regular counselling to help them quit smoking.


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