Smoking Cessation Aids

Last Modified: January 4, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

What medications will give me the best chance at quitting smoking?


Anil Vachani, MD, Attending Physician at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, responds:

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things to do given the very addictive effects of nicotine.   There are several treatments available for attempting to stop smoking.  Nicotine replacement therapy (such as the nicotine patch or nicotine gum) has been shown to double the chance to quit smoking.   These medications ideally should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive smoking cessation program, which would also provide counseling and support services.  

The other drug that has received considerable interest lately is Chantix, which is an oral drug that attaches to nicotine receptors in the brain and blocks nicotine from reaching them – this can decrease the craving for nicotine.   Chantix should be used cautiously in patients with a history of depression or other mental disorders. Anyone using Chantix should be monitored closely by their physician. Chantix and nicotine replacement methods cannot be used simultaneously. Likely due to the way Chantix works, this can result in significant side effects and has not been well studied.  

See OncoLink’s smoking cessation articles for more information.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Lung Cancer: Where are We Now? View the entire transcript.