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Cess@tion Study offers chance to trial a natural stop-smoking aid

Wednesday, May 18, 2022   Posted in: Vacancies By: Administrator With tags: volunteers, smoking, research

Smokefree May is the perfect time to kick the habit and the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) invites any smoker who wants to make a healthy change to sign up for a study that will test cytisine - a natural product which has been shown to help smokers quit.

The two-year trial - known as Cess@tion - is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and seeks 800 participants. The trial is an excellent opportunity to be inspired by the World Smokefree May campaign message: ‘Taituara, taiwhare, taieke: With backing, even the tallest of ocean waves can be conquered.’

Alongside cytisine, the trial will also test the effectiveness of nicotine e-cigarettes in smoking cessation, building on NIHI’s e-cigarette research, says Associate Professor Natalie Walker, who leads the Tobacco and Addiction research group at NIHI. Trial participants will be randomly given cytisine only, nicotine e-cigarettes only, or both.

Cytisine is sourced from and marketed in Eastern Europe but is not yet approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand. It sits in the same class as Champix, the most effective quit-smoking medicine available. International research indicates it is just as effective but much lower cost and has fewer side effects. Cytisine is a natural compound found in many plants around the world, including the New Zealand kōwhai tree. It gives the product a cultural link to Aotearoa New Zealand. It works by taking the edge off cravings and makes cigarettes less enjoyable - should someone have a puff.

“Just like any active drug, cytisine must go through a regulatory approval process. The more research that is done, especially locally, the more likely it is to be approved for use in New Zealand,” says Chris Bullen, director of NIHI.

“As with our other studies with cytisine that have showed it is safe, acceptable and effective at helping many smokers quit, we have obtained special approval from Medsafe to use cytisine for this latest study.”

Bullen says the trial will provide valuable insights, enhance the knowledge base, and hopefully progress the regulatory process for cytisine to be approved as a smoking cessation medication in New Zealand and other countries around the world.

“The evidence to date suggests cytisine is an effective and acceptable tool for people to use to quit smoking, while other medicines have been less effective,” he says.

“Joining our study not only helps the individual concerned but contributes new knowledge to support people who smoke in future,” says Walker.

Find out more about the Cess@tion study if you are interested in participating in the trial.

You can also visit the Cess@tion study Facebook page for more information.