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Want to quit smoking in 2024? New stop-smoking aid can double your chances

[Jan. 2, 2023: JD Shavit, The Brighter Side of News]

Cytisine, a cost-effective and plant-based stop-smoking aid, can more than double the chances of successful smoking cessation when compared to a placebo. (CREDIT: Shutterstock Images)

In a groundbreaking study recently published in the journal Addiction, scientists have unveiled a remarkable discovery that could change the game in the fight against smoking addiction.

Their research reveals that cytisine, a cost-effective and plant-based stop-smoking aid, can more than double the chances of successful smoking cessation when compared to a placebo. Even more promising, cytisine may outperform nicotine replacement therapy, offering a potential breakthrough for millions of smokers worldwide.


However, there's a significant obstacle: this powerful tool remains largely inaccessible to the majority of the global population, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Cytisine, an unassuming plant-derived compound, plays a pivotal role in alleviating the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It was first synthesized in Bulgaria in 1964 under the trade name Tabex® and subsequently gained popularity across Eastern Europe and Asia.


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In 2017, a Polish pharmaceutical company, Aflofarm, introduced it as Desmoxan®, available only by prescription, while Canada approved it as the over-the-counter natural health product Cravv®.

What sets cytisine apart is its affordability, opening up the possibility of significantly improving access to smoking cessation therapies, especially in low- and middle-income countries where such treatments are often scarce.


Lead author of the study, Dr. Omar De Santi, enthusiastically underscores the findings, stating, "Our study adds to the evidence that cytisine is an effective and inexpensive stop-smoking aid. It could be very useful in reducing smoking in LAMI countries where cost-effective smoking cessation drugs are urgently needed. Worldwide, smoking is considered the main cause of preventable death. Cytisine has the potential to be one of the big answers to that problem."

Risk of bias graph: review authors’ judgments about each risk of bias item presented as percentages across all included studies. (CREDIT: Addiction)

The study conducted a comprehensive analysis, pooling data from eight randomized controlled trials that compared cytisine with a placebo, involving nearly 6,000 participants. The collective results paint a clear picture of the potential of cytisine. When compared to a placebo, cytisine more than doubles the odds of successfully quitting smoking.


Additionally, the study scrutinized two randomized controlled trials pitting cytisine against nicotine replacement therapy. While the results were modest, they favored cytisine, hinting at its superiority in aiding smoking cessation. Furthermore, three trials compared cytisine with varenicline, a commonly used smoking cessation medication. However, the outcomes did not conclusively establish a clear benefit for cytisine over varenicline.

Forest plot of comparison, 1 cytisine versus placebo, outcome; 1.1, smoking cessation rate at longest follow-up. (CREDIT: Addiction)

While the findings are highly promising, there is a significant catch that must not be overlooked. Despite its efficacy and potential to revolutionize the fight against smoking, cytisine remains largely inaccessible in most parts of the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This glaring disparity in access to a potent smoking cessation aid poses a formidable challenge to global public health efforts.


As we approach the New Year, many individuals set resolutions to quit smoking. Cytisine's cost-effectiveness and efficacy could make it an essential tool in achieving these goals. However, the need for broader access to this promising treatment is undeniable.

Forest plot of comparison: 1, cytisine versus placebo, outcome: 1.2, smoking cessation rate at least 6 months. (CREDIT: Addiction)

To truly combat the global smoking epidemic, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, and health organizations must work together to ensure that cytisine becomes readily available to all those who seek to break free from the grip of tobacco addiction.


As we usher in the New Year, let us recognize the urgency of making cytisine accessible to all, potentially saving countless lives in the process and bringing us one step closer to a smoke-free world.

For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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