New medicine could help kick vaping and nicotine addiction

BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 5.6 million American adults vape, using an electronic device to inhale nicotine and flavored vapors. And much like smoking cigarettes, for some, vaping can become a habit that is difficult to quit. Researchers are now conducting a clinical trial of a plant-based product that has been tested on cigarette smokers to see if it helps people who are hooked on vaping.

Michael Werner was a college student when he started crying almost every hour. Werner quickly became addicted to nicotine, but he hated how vaping made him feel.

“It makes it hard to really be fully in the moment unless you’re using your device at the time,” Werner says.

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Nancy Rigotti, MD is director of the Division of Tobacco Research and Treatment at Mass General Hospital. After years of declining tobacco use, 1 in 10 young adults aged 18 to 24 now smoke.

Dr. Rigotti mentions, “Some of them can stop, but many of them have problems.”

She and her colleagues use text messaging, behavioral counseling and medication to help young adults who want to quit nicotine. Now they are testing the drug cytisinicline made from the plant of the same name.

“The drug itself is very similar to one of our smoking cessation drugs called Varenicline or Chantik. So it has a similar effect but has fewer side effects, that’s what we’re seeing,” explains Dr. Rigotti.

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Cytisicline is thought to block the rush of nicotine and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Michael Werner has finally quit by quitting his vape. He now works as a clinical research coordinator helping others kick the nicotine habit.

Werner says, “I’ve talked to a lot of people in drug and alcohol recovery, and they’ll tell me over and over again that it’s the hardest drug to get off of.”

Researchers hope that after clinical trials, they will have another option for vapers trying to quit.

Dr. Rigotti says that cytisicnicline has been tested in cigarette smokers, and a number of trials show that it is effective in helping people quit nicotine. For that reason, she says the drug may be closer to FDA approval for smoking cessation than vaping cessation. She says side effects include nausea, headaches and vivid dreams, but most people who take it tolerate it.

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While the drug has been available in Eastern Europe for years for smoking cessation, Dr. Rigotti says it is not yet available in the U.S.

Contributors to this report are: Cindi McGrath, producer; Kirk Munson, videographer; Rokue Correa, editor.


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