Nanny State

Nicotine Gum and Patches May Not Work, but at Least They're Officially Approved


A study published online this week by the journal Tobacco Control casts further doubt on the effectiveness of "nicotine replacement therapy" (NRT) as a method of quitting smoking. The researchers followed 787 Massachusetts smokers who had recently quit, interviewing them three times over about four years. At each stage, the subjects who used nicotine gum and patches, with or without professional counseling, were just as likely as the others to have started smoking again. It's possible that smokers who were strongly attached to the habit were especially likely to use nicotine replacement, which might partially explain these dismal results. But they are in line with other research on the subject, which generally finds modest benefits at best from NRT. The fact that an FDA-approved, officially favored method of quitting seems to barely work at all underlines the stupidity of government resistance to alternatives such as snus and electronic cigarettes. One reason NRT performs so poorly may be that it is designed and presented as a short-term medication to wean smokers off cigarettes rather than a long-term alternative that avoids all the health risks associated with inhaling tobacco smoke. Snus and e-cigarettes both show promise in that regard, and if public health officials truly were interested in reducing smoking-related morbidity and mortality they would let smokers choose the harm-reduction methods that work best for them instead of puritanically insisting on a goal of complete abstinence. 

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  1. Chantix works.

    As an added bonus you fart like a leaking balloon and have wacky dreams.

    1. And kill yourself.

    2. I started smoking when I was 12 years old and smoked for a total of 21 years. I tried everything in my numerous attempts to quit: the patch, the gum, the lozenges, cold turkey… I even had an acupuncturist put a staple in my ear. But each time I would start up again within a couple of weeks (I made it an entire month when I tried going cold turkey).

      It was my mother-in-law who introduced me to Chantix right after my first daughter was born. I was on Chantix for 2 months. I’ve been cigarette free for 5 years now and have absolutely no desire to start again.

      I never experience any of the adverse side affects that people talk about, but can attest to the fact that my dreams during that 2 month period were some of the most vivid and unusual that I’ve ever had in my life. I never considered that little quirk a negative aspect of the drug, especially since it led to my only experience of lucid dreaming. In fact, I would consider taking Chantix again just to experience a lucid dream one more time.

      As for the whole excess gas thing, I fart a lot anyway so there was no way of blaming my gas on the pill.

      Thank you Pfizer.

      1. Thanks for posting about this, really. I’m considering quitting smoking (15 years off and on) but hate the irritability of actually quitting. Did you experience this?

        1. I took the Chantix for a week and kept smoking, like the directions say. By the end of the week the cigarettes ceased to be pleasurable. It was like sucking on ashes. I lost the desire to smoke. But I still had the habit and continued on and off for another week and said “Fuck this”.
          I stayed on the Chantix for another week or two before saying “Fuck this” and stopping that as well. In the first couple months I stole a few drags off my wife’s cigarettes after I’d had too much to drink, but that’s it.
          That was three years ago.

        2. You can’t quit until you make the decision not to smoke anymore. If you don’t make that decision you’ll start right back up no matter what you do.
          Chantix made it easier, but it didn’t make that decision for me.

          1. Yeah, I kind of figured that was the issue. I want to quit mostly because 1: it’s too damn cold outside, 2: nowhere allows smoking, 3: I’m tired of coughing my ass off. At the same time I find a psychological addiction to smoking.

            I’ve successfully quit in the past for years at a time via substitution (candy, gum, etc.), but it only lasts for a year or two, until the psychological desire for a smoke outweighs the perceived lack of physical effects.

            1. Have you checked into e-cigs? Unless the nicotine and cost are the problems, they seem like a good option.

              1. I might try those, but ideally I’d like to get off the nicotine. The cost isn’t really an issue.

                1. Because e-cigarettes can be used with or without nicotine, it is possible to wean yourself off the nicotine or stop using nicotine completely if and when you feel the risks of continued nicotine use outweigh the likelihood you would start smoking again.

            2. *damn squirrels*

              Whenever I feel the urge to smoke I simply take a deep breath and listen.
              No gurgling, hissing or popping.
              The urge quickly disappears.

        3. Yes. Don’t get me wrong. Chantix doesn’t make quitting easy or less painful. I have a friend who used chantix for a month and wound up smoking more afterwards.

          Here’s how Chantix worked for me:
          I took the drug for 2 weeks while I continued to smoke (you’re supposed to set your “quit” date in advance so that you have a goal that you can commit to. some people choose a week, some choose 2; it’s up to you). This gives the drug time to build up in your system. While you’re still smoking, you don’t realize that you’re not really getting any satisfaction from the nicotine (I think this is what leads some people to smoke more during the first couple of weeks as they unconsciously try to get their Nic-fix). After your chosen quit date you’re supposed to make your best effort to not smoke for as long as possible. You’re going to want to smoke very badly because the nicotine has by now been blocked for a couple of weeks.

          You will cheat, or at least try to. Everyone does, that’s the point. I made it 8 days after my quit date before I gave in and bought a pack of cigarettes. In my mind, I kept thinking that it was going to be the best cigarette in my life. If you’ve ever gone a few days without one, you know that next smoke is a good one. Almost like getting high (not that I would know what that’s like). But when I smoke that last cigarette, I got nothing. I still felt the craving. I was pissed. Quite frankly, it was the worst feeling of my life. I never wanted to feel that way again. Fortunately, I got over that feeling withing a few minutes. I crumpled up the remaining 19 cigarettes in the pack and tossed it out the window of my car shortly after.

          I haven’t smoked since that day for fear that I would feel that level of disappointment again.

          I’m all for people being free to choose whether or not they want to smoke or get high or what ever. I don’t care. But the thought of smoking a cigarette is repugnant to me. I can still hang out with people who smoke and never feel the desire to start again. And the more time that passes since that last cigarette, the more I feel that I have to lose if I start again.

          Chantix works because you still have to put in the effort; you still have to suffer the withdrawal from nicotine. It works because once you’re forced to go through all of that, you begin to truly value being nicotine free. I’ve paid too high of a price to ever smoke cigarettes again.

          I hope this helps and wish you good luck if you decide that the time is right for you to quit.

          1. I didn’t go through withdrawal from either the nicotine or the Chantix, or if I did I didn’t notice.

            1. You’re the second person who has told me they didn’t go through withdrawal after Chantix. I’m jealous.

            2. I mean I didn’t go through the same kind of withdrawal as when I had tried to quit on my own. While on the Chantix I had the attention span of a fruit fly and hated it, but it wasn’t the teeth grinding frustration of wanting a cigarette.
              And when I stopped the Chantix I got my attention span back.

              *look! shiny!*

              Kind of.

          2. Thank you very much for your effort and input. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

      2. I would consider taking Chantix again just to experience a lucid dream one more time.


      3. I must have some endogenous Chantix, because I’ve farted a lot all my life and frequently have lucid dreams. Just today I remember asking some people in my dream (I was sleeping off some pain mid-day), “Are you imaginary too?” What’s frequently annoying, though, as also occurred to me today, is waking up from one dream into another. Thinking you’re awake, and then realizing you’re still dreaming, is more often than not a bummer.

  2. The e-cigarette bans are catching like fire. Ba dum dum.

    1. Proving that the anti-tobacco dicks are more interested in being mean to smokers than in health.

      1. Tolerant people do not tolerate anything that is not politically correct.
        Nicotine use is not politically correct and it will not be tolerated.
        That’s how tolerance works.

  3. they would let smokers choose the harm-reduction methods that work best for them instead of puritanically insisting on a goal of complete abstinence.

    That’s just how we roll. Look how well it’s working to reduce teen pregnancy.

    1. Also drug use. Almost nobody uses drugs anymore.

      1. Laws are magic.

  4. How many of those who were successful using nrt tried to quit without it and failed? It still says that 2/3 of them successfully quit. I think I’ll leave it up to those people to decide for themselves whether it was the nrt that did it or not.

    I’ve been using my e-cigarette for almost 2 months now and it is great. It took a while to get used to it but it was over a month before I had a cigarette. Only had a couple always because I wanted to enjoy one with my fiancee rather than a craving. I honestly don’t have any present desire to wean myself off the ecig (though I started off using the low nicotine level liquid in the first place) or to never have cigarette (never mind cigars/hookah).

  5. I started smoking cigarettes when I was, say, 16, and quit when I was 22. Really, what I quit was buying cigarettes. It was easy to have enough willpower only when I was at the store.

    I bummed a few, but the habit quickly faded. I experienced almost no cravings or difficulty that I can recall.

    This is also pretty much how I “diet.” I don’t buy chips and cookies and whatnot, because I know if they are in the house I will eat them. I have to exert self-control for an hour a week, rather than 24/7.

    Laziness? Or willpower? You decide.

  6. and if public health officials truly were interested in reducing smoking-related morbidity and mortality they would let smokers choose the harm-reduction methods that work best for them instead of puritanically insisting on a goal of complete abstinence.

    Admitting that individuals can make their own decisions about such matters would completely undermine the power of Big Government. So I can’t imagine any public officials ever letting anybody choose anything.

    1. Increasing the mortality rate for people who disobey the nannies is part of the plan.

  7. Wellbutrin was what worked for me.

    1. Just made it so that I couldn’t cum.

      1. I dont remember that side effect.

        1. Wellbutrin is generally used to help treat sexual dysfunction caused by SSRI drugs, so that seems like a really odd side effect. SSRIs have some really nasty sexual side effects and in some cases they don’t go away upon discontinuing the drug.

  8. Cold turkey after 25 years. Havent has one for 7 or 8 years. No desire to actually.

  9. Smoked a pack a day for 25 years and put them down the day I got my e-Cig in the mail. That was a year and a half ago. These things scare the shit out of GlaxoSmithKline.

  10. I’ve chewed nicotine gum for about 6 years now.

  11. Cigarette smokers would be much better off to take up pot smoking…..udy-finds/

    Except of course the increased risk of being killed by a para-military unit in your own home…

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  13. I use an ecig and its great. There are alot of shitty ones but blu works. As long as I have it I dont see any reason why Id smoke ever smoke or dip again

  14. There are a lot of smokers who enjoy smoking and don’t want to quit – they just don’t like the side effects: expensive taxes, forced to go outside, smelling like smoke, public ridicule, coughing/general malaise and/or increased health risks.

    Many people assume that smokeless/e-cigarette users switched because they disliked smoking and wanted to quit nicotine. Surveys show us that the exact opposite is true for the majority – they just wanted an alternative to smoking that they could still enjoy, but without the drawbacks.

    E-cigarettes are a perfect solution for smokers who enjoy smoking and don’t really WANT to quit, they just know that they PROBABLY SHOULD quit. (These smokers are probably the least likely to even seriously ATTEMPT to quit, so NRT or Chantix definitely wouldn’t help if they never buy it.)

    Additionally, they are also showing promise as a way to break smoking triggers and VERY slowly wean off nicotine, for those who wish to do so. They are also a much safer option for someone who quit altogether and relapses back to smokeles/e-cigarettes vs. smoking.

    E-cigarettes and snus give an alternative for those folks and are a win-win for people who don’t like second-hand smoke. Attempts to ban e-cigarettes and flavored smokeless products are just telling smokers – “We only want you to have the worst possible product available to you and we don’t want to make it any easier for you to switch to something better.”

    Basically – quit nicotine (even if you like it, it’s low risk, more affordable and/or improves your life in some way) or just die (but let us get as much money out of you and make your life as miserable as possible, first.)

  15. Picked up an eGo ecig kit back in July, and haven’t had a cigarette since…but if the FDA has its way, I’ll be back to cigarettes. Atlas Shrugged-land anyone? :-/

  16. Those are unfortunate findings. We definitely need better ways to keep cigarette butts out of the environment. Recent studies show they’re way more toxic than anyone previously knew. There’s a lot more info here:

  17. Thanks for this. I’d like to add a little fuel to your argument though.

    The benefit of nicotine is greater and the harm of smoking is not at all what the medical establishment has been claiming all these years.

    Nicotine does not just reduce stress, it is the single most powerful antidepressant available. It activates the exact areas and receptors of the brain that are dysfuctional in depressive patients- the frontal cortex and orexin system.

    And the most current data shows that oro-pharyngeal cancer is caused by bacteria (S. anginosus) and viruses (HPV), not toxins. Smoking does not cause mouth cancer, it accelerates the process, it dries out the tissues and promotes infection. It can be prevented with proper periodontal care. That is probably true of lung cancer too.

    And on the harm reduction theme- I don’t care how many of you had good results with Chantix. That sh*t is evil, and the people selling it should be jailed. The full data set show it causes manic/depressive symptoms in about 30% of people who take it. (that’s why they didn’t release all the info BEFORE getting approved.)

    Unfortunately modern medicine is based on profits, not reality. Don’t expect to hear any of this information from them.

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