Pharmacologic agents for smoking cessation: a clinical review

Clin Pharmacol. 2010;2:17-29. doi: 10.2147/CPAA.S8788. Epub 2010 Apr 7.


Tobacco use has been clearly demonstrated to have negative health consequences. Smoking cigarettes is the predominant method of tobacco use. The tar contained within cigarettes and other similar products is also harmful. Other tarless tobacco containing products do exist but carry no significantly decreased risk. While nicotine is considered to be principally responsible for tobacco addiction, other chemicals in the cigarette smoke including acetaldehyde may contribute to the addictive properties of tobacco products. The adverse health consequences of tobacco use have been well documented. Studies have shown that a combined behavioral and pharmacological approach is more effective in smoking cessation than either approach alone. Pharmacotherapy can achieve 50% reduction in smoking. With pharmacotherapy the estimated 6-month abstinence rate is about 20%, whereas it is about 10% without pharmacotherapy. The first-line of drugs for smoking cessation are varenicline, bupropion sustained release, and nicotine replacement drugs, which are approved for use in adults. Data are insufficient to recommend their use in adolescents. This article reviews the use of pharmacological agents used for smoking cessation. A brief overview of epidemiology, chemistry, and adverse health effects of smoking is provided.

Keywords: bupropion sustained release; electronic cigarettes; nicotine; nicotine addiction; nicotine replacement therapy; smoking; tobacco; varenicline.