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New, Slightly Better, Ways to Quit Smoking

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Last month, we reported on the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2012 report card. Apparently, 2011 was an “abysmal year for tobacco control.”
Among other issues, 43 states plus DC scored an F for their funding of tobacco control and prevention programs. Six states failed in every available category against only four who passed them all.
Considering the fact that, in spite of decades of horrifying, in your face ads showing smoking’s negative health effects, around 20% of American’s still smoke, the government might want to start doing a better job. Then again, maybe they need some help, and a new product might just be the ticket.
According to Reuters, a study performed by German and Scandinavian researchers found that a new nicotine mouth spray was more than twice as effective as placebo in helping smokers quit. 14% of smokers who used the spray for three months still didn’t smoke after a year, versus 6% on placebo. (While these numbers seem small, that’s more a comment on the difficulty of quitting smoking, only 3% of smokers successfully quit each year.)
The spray performed better against placebo than other nicotine replacement products like the patch. Its chief advantage—beyond its mint flavor—is that the spray absorbs into the blood stream more quickly than other products.
However, it did not guard against smoking cessation’s best-known side effect: participants in the study gained an average of ten pounds.
Recent trials have found that medications, either replacement products like the spray or drugs like Chantix, work much better when combined with intensive therapy. Therapy along with meds led cessation success rates to rise to 25% at one year.
Then again, maybe that’s just the therapy. Last month, research published in the journal Tobacco Control found that they don’t work at all outside of a lab.
Well, if that’s the case, there’s always an iPhone (AAPL) app for that. Phillip Morris (PM) and RJ Reynolds (RAI), eat your heart out.

(See also: States Can’t Stop Smoking)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.