Today’s column is the final installment of the Cochrane QUITS series.  As this is my last health related initiative as a practicing pharmacist it is my sincere hope that all Cochrane and area smokers will attend “Cochrane QUITS” at the Lions Event Centre on Saturday, June 15 at 1 pm. If you are not a smoker please encourage others to attend and you are also welcome to come as a supporter. This could be a day to change yours or another’s life in a most positive way. Register today at Events Page.

Pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation can be divided into 2 broad categories – nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and non-nicotine therapies. NRT includes chewing pieces, patch, inhaler, lozenges, or mouth spray. Nrt, without the tar and carbon monoxide is a cleaner way to get nicotine. It is considered first-line therapy for most patients and accomplishes two key factors:

  • Provides relatively steady blood levels of nicotine which reduces (but doesn’t eliminate) cravings
  • Alleviates physical withdrawal which gives the smoker time to develop strategies for the psychological and social reasons he or she has for smoking.

Prescription therapies include Champix (varenicline), buproprion, nortriptyline, and clonidine.  Varenicline is the most popular choice and was developed expressly for smoking cessation. It is an alpha4beta2-nicotinic receptor partial agonist and is also associated with suppression of depression and reduction of smoking reward. Dosage is done on an ascending scale and lasts up to 12 weeks. People taking this medication continue to smoke for 8-14 days and then quit.

With all stop smoking methods a combination of therapies is usually the most effective with pharmaceuticals, counselling, behaviour modification, and peer support being the best possible course of treatment.

For a more in depth description of cessation therapies join us on June 15 when myself and fellow pharmacist (and fellow class of 1978 classmate!) Rose Chapman will present them at Cochrane QUITS.

Please, please take that first step to becoming a former smoker!