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‘Heat-not-burn cigarettes as risky as traditional ones’
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2019.02.26 15:45
  • Updated 2019.02.26 15:45
  • comments 0

An expert pointed out how harmful so-called “heat-not-burn” cigarettes could be and offered tips for effective smoking cessation.

Kim Dae-jin, a professor at the psychiatry department at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, said that the new type of tobacco, designed to reduce carcinogens and let users absorb nicotine only, has become another stumbling block for smoking cessation.

Kim Dae-jin, a professor at the psychiatry department at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, speaks during a news conference in Seoul, Tuesday.

His comments came at a news conference on smoking cessation treatment and latest knowledge held by Pfizer Korea at a hotel in central Seoul, Tuesday. “Heat-not-burn cigarettes are similar to conventional ones in terms of nicotine addiction because they also deliver nicotine to the brain,” he said.

Although heat-not-burn devices have small amounts of nicotine, smokers raise inhalations to increase the amount of nicotine required in the brain. In the end, users of the new type of tobacco absorb a similar amount of nicotine, Kim explained.

“People must not think that nicotine is a relatively safe substance. Nicotine addiction is a brain disease. Also, smoking is a ‘chronic tobacco use disorder’ that causes nicotine dependence,” he said. Kim emphasized that people who wish to quit smoking should get medical help to control withdrawal symptoms.

According to Kim’s study, the probability that people can succeed in stopping smoking for more than six months only with their will and determination is only 4 percent. However, medical help raises the chance by over five times to 17-26 percent.

His empirical data suggested that if a person can stop smoking for more than six months, he or she has an 80 percent chance of not smoking at all in the rest of life. If it is for two years, the probability goes up to 90 percent, he said.

Kim emphasized that it was essential to increase the number of attempts to kick the habit.

Park Yoo-jung, scientific manager of medical affairs at Pfizer Korea, introduced various clinical trials on Champix (ingredient: varenicline), an anti-smoking drug.

Champix proved neuropsychological safety in a study called EAGLES that compared the drug with bupropion, nicotine patch, and placebo.

The incidence of severe neuropsychiatric adverse events in patients who have been mentally ill did not significantly increase in Champix group (6.5 percent) or bupropion (6.7 percent), compared to nicotine patch (5.2 percent) and placebo (4.9 percent).

Among patients who had no record of mental illness, Champix (1.3 percent) did not show a significant difference, compared to bupropion (2.2 percent), nicotine patch (2.5 percent) and placebo (2.4 percent).

Based on the EAGLES study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently removed a black box warning on Champix about possible neuropsychiatric side effects.

Champix also proved safe against major cardiovascular events in CATS study, an extension of the EAGLES study.

Among the 8,058 adult smokers who participated in the EAGLES study, 4,595 joined the extended study. According to the result of 52 weeks of data including the 12-week treatment, there was no significant difference in cardiovascular adverse events, blood pressure, and heart rate changes among Champix, bupropion, nicotine patch, and placebo groups.

In time to occurrence of the cardiovascular adverse event, there was no significant difference among the four groups.

“Champix offers abundant data from large-scale global clinical studies and local prescription data accumulated over a decade,” Park said. “Pfizer will do its best to raise awareness that smoking is a nicotine addiction that requires treatment and that the best treatment is to quit smoking. We will make every effort to continue clinical research."


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