03/04/09 Further Proof Nicotine is Not the Reason Smokers Smoke

Despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, almost all non-smokers and, sadly, smokers believe the reason people smoke is because of the nicotine contained in the smoke.  The anti-smokers have worked long and hard to paint a picture of us smokers being nothing more than nicotine junkies, doing anything to get our ‘hit’. This is not true of course, and until 1988 people knew this – but in that fateful year the anti-smoking Surgeon General decided the word “addiction” needed redefining to include tobacco smoking. He also had an ideology of a smokefree world by the year 2000, so we know his lack of objectivity is matched only by his lack of integrity.

I thought that the success rate of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was 15%.  Apparently, though, I was wrong – and I have to say it is one of those instances where I am perfectly happy to be wrong, in fact I am almost reveling in it. Why? Because the success rate is not 15%, in fact it is nowhere even close to 15%. The true figure, it has emerged, is just 1.6%!

Yes, you read that right: 1.6% of NRT users have long-term success. This means, of course, that 98.4% find no solace with it. Clearly, then, nicotine is not the reason people smoke, if it were then smokers would be quite happy with their NRT because the ‘nicotine receptors’ would be kept nice and content. Heroin users often find themselves addicted to methadone when trying to come off heroin, because it is an opiate like heroin. Whilst a small percentage of smokers do become addicted to nicotine, it must be stressed the addiction is psychological, not physical. The difference cannot be overstated: psychological means you think you need a substance, physical means you actually do need it, without it the body will not function – hence hard drug users experiencing things from hallucinations to vomiting to loss of muscle control.

This finding comes from a new study, published online ahead of its printing in the BMJ [1]. The authors conclude:

“Available trials indicate that nicotine replacement therapy is an effective intervention in achieving sustained smoking abstinence for smokers who have no intention or are unable to attempt an abrupt quit”

The authors used a meta-analysis of NRT treatment of smokers who would not or could not quit ‘cold turkey’.  There were two outcomes: the first being those who remained non-smokers, measured at six and twelve month follow-ups; the second was sustained smoking reduction, defined as a reduced cigarette consumption by over 50%. So, to put it another way, the first outcome was those who went from smokers to non-smokers, and the second outcome was those who halved the amount they smoked.

The results?

The proportion of smokers achieving sustained abstinence at six months with nicotine replacement therapy was 6.75%, compared to 3.28% for placebo, yielding a significant relative risk of 2.06.

The proportion of smokers achieving sustained abstinence at final follow-up (generally one year) was 1.6% for the nicotine replacement therapy group, compared to 0.4% for the placebo group.

The proportion of smokers achieving sustained reduction at six months was 21.8% in the intervention group compared to 16.5% in the placebo group.

The proportion of smokers achieving sustained reduction at final follow-up was 6.3% for the NRT group and 1.6% for the placebo group.

Somehow, the researchers concluded that the 1.6% showed NRT as being “effective”. Granted, it is more effective than the placebo which had a 0.4% success, but it is hardly effective in the real world. In fact, it is an absolute sham. Almost all the smokers failed to find long-term success with NRT, proving it as effective as eating mud as a replacement of smoking (in fact, eating mud may be more effective because at least the mouth is otherwise occupied).

Now, I am sure that most, if not all, of you reading this know what a huge part Big Pharma plays in demonising smokers – after all, how else would it sell such bogus products? So I am sure it comes as no surprise to learn that the study author, Paul Aveyard, has been paid by McNeil – a pharmaceutical company in Sweden, associated with Johnson & Johnson (J&J being the body behind the face of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the company who has put over half a billion dollars into anti-smoking studies and researchers).  The paper states that Aveyard “has accepted hospitality and money from McNeil (Helsinborg, Sweden), which sponsored the trials in the report.”

You may never have heard of McNeil, but do not let that get in the way. They are the proud makers of Nicorette tablets, Nicorette nasal spray, Nicorette gum, Nicorette inhalator cartridges, and Nicotrol.

Conflict of interest you say? Sure, but what else is new? This is the anti-smoking movement, after all!

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/338/apr02_3/b1024

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