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New nicotine replacement products offer hope to smokers

Clocktower at night

Wednesday 17 March 2010 12:38pm

New Zealand smokers have given the thumbs up to two nicotine replacement products which may become more commonly available in this country following research from the University of Otago, Wellington. The new products come in small sachets which smokers keep in their mouth, allowing nicotine to be rapidly released.

Meanwhile the researchers are launching a second more ambitious study which will be the largest nicotine replacement trial ever seen in New Zealand. It is aiming to test an innovative new mouth spray to be used every time a smoker has the desire to light up.

The new study is looking for 1,600 participants in Wellington and Christchurch to take part in a trial to test the effectiveness of the new Zonnic mouth spray, to be used in addition to the normally available nicotine patches. Participants will also be given regular counselling to help them quit smoking.

“The new Zonnic nicotine mouth spray study is a great chance to not only stop smoking altogether, but also to help other smokers who’re desperate to kick the habit and haven’t succeeded by going cold turkey or using nicotine patches on their own,” says University of Otago, Wellington researcher, Dr Brent Caldwell.

The first NRT study results, which focussed on small nicotine sachets as a new form of replacement therapy, found that most smokers preferred the new products, snus and Zonnic, compared to the nicotine gum which is currently available from pharmacies and doctors.

At present only 10% of people who use nicotine replacement therapy actually stop smoking long-term and around 5000 people die every year in New Zealand from smoking related disease.

Snus is Swedish oral tobacco in a sachet which is placed between the cheek and gum. Zonnic is a similar sachet, but contains nicotine and peppermint or fruit flavouring instead of tobacco. The researchers say that both have potential as nicotine replacement therapies.

“These look like attractive and effective options to help smokers reduce smoking or quit as they’re easy to take, people like the impact and they suppress withdrawal symptoms,” says lead researcher Dr Brent Caldwell from the Department of Medicine.

The study investigated 63 smokers who used the new products and gum for two weeks each, measuring reduction in smoking, the desire to smoke and the impact on withdrawal symptoms.

After trying the three products, participants ranked them in order of preference. 40% ranked Zonnic as their most preferred product, 40% chose snus, and 20% said gum was their favourite.

Zonnic and snus had significantly fewer side-effects than gum, particularly gastrointestinal effects. Participants also tended to use more Zonnic than gum or snus which explains the greater reduction in smoking using this product.

Smoking was statistically significantly reduced through the use of all three products. On average, participants reduced their smoking by 33% during the fortnight they used gum, by 37% when they used snus, and 42% in their fortnight of Zonnic therapy.

The Zonnic mouth spray research team is keen to hear from volunteers in the Wellington and Christchurch areas who are interested in quitting smoking.

Those living in the Christchurch and Wellington areas interested in taking part in this new study should phone 0800 318 167 or go to Wellingtonians can choose to take part through the University of Otago, Wellington, or at Kokiri Marae in Seaview.

The trial of snus, Zonnic and nicotine gum has been published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research and was funded by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand.
A photo of snus NRT sachets is available.

For further information contact:

Dr Brent Caldwell
Department of Medicine
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel +64 4 918 6041
Mob +64 21 87 22 64

For a list of Otago experts available for media comment, please go to: