Methods to Stop Smoking

By Jerilyn Watson

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Fifty-million people in the United States smoke cigarettes. Each year at least twenty-million smokers try to stop. But fewer than six percent succeed. Experts say there are several methods to help end a smoker's dependency on cigarettes. Studies show that using these methods at the same time can increase chances of success.

Nicotine is the major substance in cigarettes that provides pleasure for smokers. There are several kinds of nicotine-replacement products that provide small amounts of the substance. These can help people stop smoking. For example, smokers can place small, specially treated pieces of material on their skin. They can chew or swallow other products with nicotine. Or they can inhale small amounts of nicotine through the nose or mouth.

A drug used to fight extreme sadness, or depression, has proved effective for many smokers. This antidepressant drug is called Zyban. It does not contain nicotine. The drug works by increasing levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure. Studies have shown that Zyban reduces the urge to smoke for some people.

There is strong evidence that people who have suffered from depression are much more likely to smoke than other people. The same is true for people who have brain disorders such as schizophrenia. Doctors say these people can think better and feel better when they are smoking. It also is much harder for them to stop smoking than for other people.

Another aid to help people stop smoking is not a medicine. Itis a support organization. People in support groups try to help each other stop smoking. Such groups are offered by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, hospitals and private treatment centers.

Sometimes all efforts to stop smoking fail. If that happens, people can try to join a clinical trial. This is a controlled study of experimental medicine. One drug being studied in a clinical trial is called Mecamylamine. It was designed to block the pleasurable effects of nicotine while a person is smoking a cigarette. The goal of the drug is to make smoking no longer pleasant and satisfying.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English