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    Vapes and smoking cessation drug Champix show comparable effectiveness, study finds

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    A groundbreaking study has revealed that nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes are as effective as the drug varenicline (also called Campix) in aiding smoking cessation.

    The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicates that nicotine vapes seem to be an effective option as smoking cessation treatment for adult smokers.

    The randomized clinical trial, conducted in northern Finland from August 2018 to February 2020, involved 561 daily smokers aged 25 to 75 who volunteered to quit smoking. Of these, 458 participants were deemed eligible and were randomized into three groups: one receiving nicotine-containing e-cigarettes with placebo tablets, another receiving varenicline with nicotine-free e-cigarettes, and a third receiving placebo tablets with nicotine-free e-cigarettes. Each intervention was supplemented with a motivational interview and lasted 12 weeks, followed by a 52-week follow-up period.

    The primary outcome measured was the self-reported 7-day abstinence from conventional cigarettes, confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide levels at week 26. The results demonstrated that 40.4 per cent of participants in the e-cigarettes group and 43.8 per cent in the varenicline group achieved smoking abstinence, compared to only 19.7 per cent in the placebo group.

    The findings were statistically significant, indicating that both nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and varenicline were effective in promoting smoking cessation.

    In detail, the study found a risk difference of 20.7 per cent between the e-cigarettes group and the placebo group, and a 24.1 per cent difference between the varenicline group and the placebo group. However, the difference between the e-cigarettes and varenicline groups was not statistically significant, suggesting that both methods are comparably effective.

    Marketed in the UK by Pfizer since 2006, varenicline (Champix) was an important stop smoking aid until 2021 when it was withdrawn on safety grounds. A 2013 Cochrane overview and network meta-analysis concluded that varenicline is the most effective medication for tobacco cessation.

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