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NIDA. (2015, January 12). Nicotine metabolism rates may impact success of smoking cessation treatments. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

January 12, 2015

person applying nicotine patch

A randomized clinical trial of smokers trying to quit found that the effectiveness of particular smoking cessation therapies might relate to how quickly their body metabolizes nicotine. The study compared success rates of the nicotine patch versus the prescription medication varenicline.

Among participants with “normal” nicotine metabolic rates, varenicline was significantly more effective than the nicotine patch in helping them refrain from smoking at the end of treatment and six months following treatment. For “slow” metabolizers, there was no difference in success rates between varenicline and the nicotine patch, however there were fewer side effects experienced by those who used the patch. Prescribers can use this information to inform smoking cessation recommendations based on individual patient profiles.

This research, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, was funded by NIDA, NCINHGRI, and NIGMS. For a copy of the article, go to:  For information on tobacco/nicotine research and trends, visit

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