A vaccine for smokers

Early tests show strong results

Cigarette Butts
A shot in the arm may one day help smokers quit the habit.
Photo courtesy bfraz

In the University of Minnesota study, 68 active smokers were randomly assigned to receive one of three different doses of the vaccine or a placebo. The smokers who got the highest doses of vaccine were most likely to stop smoking altogether. And vaccinated participants didn’t puff harder on cigarettes or smoke more to make up for their lower nicotine levels.

Hatsukami said, “This result was an impressive and completely unexpected finding because the subjects studied were smokers who were not yet ready to quit. In fact, to participate in the study, smokers had to attest that they did not have a planned quit date for the next 30 days.”

The scientists think the effects of the vaccine will wear off over two to six months as the antibody levels in blood decline, so re-vaccination will be needed if a longer duration is necessary. And it’s not yet clear whether NicVax can help prevent people who quit smoking from starting up again.