Local News

Study: With Proper Help, Blacks Can Stop Smoking

Posted July 23, 2002

— Compared to other races, black smokers carry a higher share of tobacco-related health problems and deaths. Yet, they are often underrepresented in clinical trials. However, a new study from the

Journal of the American Medical Association

finds that with the right help, black smokers can and will quit smoking.

If you smoke, Mark Asberry's story probably sounds familiar.

"I tried several times to quit in the past, used several methods, used the gum, tried cold turkey several different times before I was successful," he said.

After 20 years of smoking two packs a day, Asberry has not had a cigarette in three years. He was part of a clinical trial to determine if the smoking cessation drug Buproprion, also known as Zyban, works for African-Americans.

In the study, patients were divided into two groups. One received medication and counseling for seven weeks. The other took a placebo. Not only did researchers want to learn if the medication worked. They wanted to see if African-Americans were motivated to quit.

After six months, 21 percent of the study participants taking Buproprion were still smoke-free, compared to 14 percent who were on placebo.

"We found that, in fact, African-American smokers are interested in quitting, want to quit, and, in fact, can quit smoking. It completely dispels the myth that African-American smokers don't want to quit, they do," said Dr. Jasjit Ahluwalia of the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Buproprion has been used for many years as an antidepressant, and only recently the drug has been discovered to be effective in smoking cessation.

"No one is entirely sure how the medication works. We do know that it works through certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters to help behavior change," Ahluwalia said.

As an added benefit, people who remained smoke free while on Buproprion therapy compared gained less weight than those on placebo.

The study shows cessation program are also cost effective. The price tag on helping a smoker quit is about $300 for medication, while treatments of a lung cancer patient can cost more than $90,000.


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