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New Drug to Help Kick Smoking Habit Cleared in UK

Ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces comes into force in the UK on July 1. And for those inveterate smokers who might despair help is at hand.

A twice-daily drug, varenicline, (brand name (CHAMPIX), has been given the green light by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which advises the NHS on which drugs it should supply.

The pill, taken twice a day, also outstrips other anti-smoking agents such as bupropion, Nice analysis showed. A spokesman for Nice said: Having looked at all the evidence, our independent committee has concluded that varenicline appears to be a good way to help people who want to quit smoking.

He added that the prescription-only drug, which costs 54.60 per pack, should be provided in conjunction with counselling and support. The drug partially stimulates nicotine receptors in the brain, which helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It also partially blocks nicotine from attaching to these receptors, making smoking less satisfying and so curbing a persons desire to smoke.

A spokesman for Nice said: "Having looked at all the evidence, our independent committee has concluded that varenicline appears to be a good way to help people who want to quit smoking. "The draft guidance also recommends that varenicline should normally be provided in conjunction with counselling and support, but if such support is not available, this should not stop smokers receiving treatment with varenicline.

"Nice follows an open and transparent process which includes genuine consultation so changes in draft recommendations can occur. Stakeholders now have the opportunity to appeal against the draft guidance. Smokers and non-smokers shopping generally seemed to welcome the new pill even if non-smoking taxpayers have to foot the bill.

Non-smoker Sheldon Byrne, 48, from Marsden, South Shields, said: "There needs to be a balance. "Is it going to be cheaper
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