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How Does the Vaccine Compare to Other Smoking Cessation Products?

You've read about the smoking vaccine and how it works.  Now lets compare it to other stop smoking products and how they work.

Nicotine patch: The patch is one of five FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) treatments.  NRT treatments are designed to deliver nicotine by methods that do not include the health risks that smoking does.  Nicotine doses can be tapered so that eventually the smoker is less and less dependent on the drug.  The patch is worn on the skin and delivers nicotine through the skin to the bloodstream, and on to the brain.  Side effects include those common with nicotine withdrawal, including dizziness, drowsiness, headache, irritability, sleep disturbances, vivid dreams, mild hallucinations, and depression.  Some people experience skin irritation at the site of the patch due to allergic reactions to materials or adhesives in the patch.  It may be easy for a smoker to relapse after using the patch, because unlike the antibodies in the smoking vaccine, the patch does not make smoking a cigarette less enjoyable.

Nicotine gum or lozenges:  Gums and lozenges are also NRT treatments for quitting smoking.  Like the patch, they are designed to deliver nicotine without harmful smoking, and to be tapered off to end addiction.  Tissues in the mouth absorb nicotine from gums and lozenges into the bloodstream.  Side effects for new users of nicotine gum, or those who use the gum excessively, are involuntary muscle contractions, like hiccups, that result from the accidental swallowing of saliva with high amounts of nicotine that can irritate the throat.  Prolonged use of the gum may also put a user at risk for gum disease.  Like the patch, gums and lozenges do not eliminate the chemical pleasure associated with smoking, and relapses are not uncommon.

Antidepressant:  The prescription pill Zyban is an antidepressant that is sometimes used as a smoking cessation aid.  It works by reducing the severity of nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.  Side effects include those commonly associated with antidepressants, such as dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, tremor, excessive sweating, tinnitus, rash, and nausea.  Patients are also warned against psychiatric side effects, like increased depression and thoughts of suicide. 

Nicotine receptor agonist:
  An example of this kind of drug is the prescription Chantix.  Chantix works by binding to the nicotine receptors in the brain, which blocks nicotine from binding but also allows the release of some dopamine, the chemical that nicotine triggers that gives smokers that signature feeling.  This drug both depletes the pleasurable experience of smoking and curbs some withdrawal symptoms.  Nausea is a common side effect.  Headache and sleeping difficulties are less common side effects.  Patients are also warned of the possibility of change in taste, abdominal pain, flatulence, constipation, and psychiatric effects such as depression or thoughts of suicide.

Smoking vaccine:  The vaccine behaves differently than most of these products because it contains no nicotine and it removes the chemical enjoyment a smoker gets from smoking a cigarette.  Because it stays in the bloodstream for a year or more, it may prove vital in fighting relapses.  This nicotine vaccine is still in development, but phase II clinical trials showed few side effects.

Now that you have read about how the smoking vaccine works, and how it stacks up against other quit-smoking products, lets take a look at some good reasons to quit smoking now.