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A new way to quit

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A new way to quit

Smokers in the Wellington region have been taking part in a trial of a world-first nicotine inhaler developed at the University of Otago, Wellington.

The inhaler is based on the same design as puffer devices used to deliver medication to asthmatics, but instead delivers a short burst of nicotine.

Project researcher Dr Brent Caldwell says the inhaler is potentially a huge improvement on current therapies such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.

Research shows that, although the vast majority of smokers would like to give up smoking, current therapies only help about 10 per cent of those who use them to quit. New Zealand smoking rates are still at 17 per cent of the adult population, a figure that needs to reduce dramatically to reach the 2025 goal of a smoke-free New Zealand.

“We believe our inhaler will improve on current nicotine replacements because it provides an instant hit of nicotine, which is what smokers need when they feel that desperate desire to light up,” Caldwell says.

He notes that, until now, nicotine inhalers have either been too harsh to inhale, or the nicotine replacement therapy is absorbed too slowly via the mouth and throat instead of a rapid "hit" to the brain via the lungs.

“This approach is an innovative and practical way to help smokers give up smoking. It’s as rewarding as smoking a cigarette, while also being highly tolerable and pleasant to inhale.”

The trial has been funded by the Health Research Council.