Smokers have a better chance of quitting the habit if they regulate their nicotine intake, a new study has found.
The study conducted by Queen Mary University of London researchers is the first to tailor nicotine dosing based on smokers' choices while attempting to quit.
The results indicate that most smokers who use stop-smoking medications can tolerate doses that are four times higher than what is normally recommended.
Study author Dunja Przulj from the Queen Mary University of London said: "Smokers determine their nicotine intake while they smoke, but when they try to quit, their nicotine levels are dictated by the recommended dosing of the treatment. These levels may be far too low for some people, increasing the likelihood that they go back to smoking.
"Medicinal nicotine products may be under-dosing smokers and could explain why we've seen limited success in treatments, such as patches and gum, helping smokers to quit. A change in their application is now needed.
"Our findings should provide reassurance to smokers that it is okay to use whatever nicotine doses they find helpful."
In a tobacco dependence clinic in Argentina, researchers examined 50 smokers. Initially, participants were given 21mg nicotine patch every day for four weeks before their quit date. Every week the dose was increased by another 21mg patch. However, the team did not increase the dose in those who experienced adverse effects. The dose was then reduced by 21mg/day each week from one week after their quit date.
The results showed 90 percent of the participants progressed to at least three patches, while 72 percent progressed to four patches. The appeal of smoking also significantly declined, as well as, the number of cigarettes smoked during the pre-quit period.
"Smokers are perfectly capable of determining which doses of nicotine they find helpful. There is no risk of dangerous overdose because nicotine includes an effective safety valve in the form of nausea," Professor Peter Hajek from the Queen Mary University of London. Adding, "Our results also suggest that one of the reasons e-cigarettes are so much more popular and potentially more effective than other nicotine replacement treatments is that smokers can adjust their nicotine intake according to their needs.”