Is cytisine the silver bullet for quitting smoking?

What is the latest quit smoking ‘wonder drug’ and does it work?

Cytisine tablets
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Before I write anything about any new treatment intended to help smokers quit – I always start by making it clear that Allen Carr’s Easyway welcome anything that helps release smokers from the misery of nicotine addiction. The more methods available to help smokers to freedom – the better.

I mention “treatment” but of course it would be more accurate to have said “drug”. Because, with the exception of Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Group Seminars which received NICE approval in 2022, all additions to the list of approved treatments for smoking cessation are provided by the pharmaceutical industry. All of them!

A strong bias towards pharmacology

Isn’t it extraordinary that those working in public health seem so wedded to pharmacological solutions at the expense of virtually all others? The media and public health sector fanfare that has welcomed the latest ‘magic pill’ contrasts sharply with the silence which greeted NICE’s approval of Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Group Seminars two years ago. Why is that?

Allen Carr’s Easyway is an effective, entirely drug-free, accessible, cost-effective, Great British treatment for smoking cessation. What’s not to like? The extent to which only pharmacological treatments are celebrated and promoted by our public health services is not only unscientific, unfair, and disturbing but does a significant disservice to the great British public – who deserve a choice – especially a drug-free choice. After all – we’re all paying for this.

Pills, patches, and potions only tackle 1% of the problem

The fact is that Allen Carr’s Easyway makes it easy for smokers to quit without requiring any of the drugs designed to combat the discomfort caused by nicotine withdrawal (which is actually extremely mild). No wonder Big Pharma don’t care for us!

As long a smoker understands the process by which they became addicted and how that created and nurtured a sense of dependence which in turn has made it unpleasant or even impossible for them to quit in the past – they can quit with ease.

Nicotine addiction is 99% mental

Nicotine addiction is 99% mental and 1% physical and it is extraordinary that Allen Carr’s Easyway stands alone treating the 99% – whilst Big Pharma earns billions addressing the measly 1%.

After our live seminars received NICE approval I expected to be fighting off research bodies, public health champions, Cancer Research UK and the like – assuming that they all might want to examine the effectiveness of our online video programmes and books (which cost less than a pack of cigarettes). Yet, they couldn’t have been less interested in the method. Actually Cancer Research UK managed even that – spending who knows how many thousands of pounds donated by the public in an attempt to prevent Allen Carr’s Easyway method receiving NICE approval!

Local authority smoking cessation services are achieving great results with our drug-free method

As more and more local authority smoking cessation services follow NICE guidelines and make Allen Carr’s Easyway available to the smokers who seek their help to quit – it’s essential that this brilliant drug free method isn’t overlooked in favour of something that only deals with 1% of the quit smoking problem.

I’ll finish where I started, the more clinically proven ways of quitting smoking someone is offered – the better. As such, Allen Carr’s Easyway (as decreed by NICE) should always be offered to smokers as an option alongside cytisine, e-cigarettes, varenicline, NRT, and whatever the next ‘wonder drug’ is.

What is cytisine?

Cytisine is considered a safe and effective treatment which works similarly to varenicline (Champix/Chantix), in that it apparently reduces urges to smoke by attaching to some of the same neuronal receptors in the brain that nicotine does.

It was developed by two Bulgarian pharmacologists, Professor Dymitar Paskov and Dr Hristo Dobrev in the early 1950s. Widespread use of cytisine only began during the 1990s in Poland.

Are there any side effects?

Its side effects (gastric symptoms and sleep disturbance) are similar to those experienced with varenicline.

How is cytisine taken?

It is swallowed as a tablet or capsule. The standard course of treatment is currently 25 days but it is considered that using it for up to 12 weeks improves its effectiveness.

Cytisine is now available in the UK as a prescription-only medication.

Read more about stop smoking treatments & alternatives – Pills, gum, devices & more