According to a study published in JAMA, use of the nicotine addiction drug varenicline produced greater reductions in smoking and increased smoking cessation rates.
A JAMA news release indicates that among cigarette smokers not willing or able to quit smoking in the next month but willing to reduce with the goal of quitting in the next 3 months, varenicline use for 24 weeks compared with placebo produced greater reductions in smoking prior to quitting and increased smoking cessation rates at the end of treatment and at 1 year.
Jon Ebbert, MD, MSc, of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,510 cigarette smokers to 24 weeks of varenicline or placebo with a reduction target of 50% or more in the number of cigarettes smoked by 4 weeks, 75% or more by 8 weeks, and a quit attempt by 12 weeks. The results of the study, conducted at 61 centers in 10 countries, showed that the varenicline group had notably higher continuous abstinence rates during weeks 15 through 24 than the placebo group (32.1% vs 6.9%) as well as during weeks 21 through 24 (37.8% vs 12.5%) and weeks 21 through 52 (27.0% vs 9.9%).
The JAMA news release indicates that at week 4, 47.1% of participants treated with varenicline reduced the number of cigarettes smoked per day compared with baseline by 50% or more or abstained completely compared with 31.1% of participants treated with placebo. In addition, after 8 weeks, 26.3% participants in the varenicline group reduced smoking by 75% or more from baseline or abstained compared with 15.1% participants in the placebo group.
The authors of the study write, “Because most clinicians are likely to see smokers at times when a quit date in the next month is not planned, the current study indicates that prescription of varenicline with a recommendation to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day with the eventual goal of quitting could be a useful therapeutic option for this population of smokers. The approach of reduction with the goal of quitting increases the options for a clinician caring for a smoker.”