A clinical trial of 312 teenagers aged 14 to 17 who smoked six or more cigarettes a day and had tried quitting at least twice, found that counseling and medication may help teens quit smoking, though in some cases (26-week time period), the placebo group had higher quit-rates than those taking the drug tested in the study, bupropion.
The subjects were divided into three groups and administered 150 milligrams (105 teens) or 300 milligrams (104 teens) of bupropion daily, or a placebo (103 teens).
Students received six weeks of treatment and one week of post-treatment, in addition to 10-20 minutes of individual counseling. Followup interviews were conducted by phone after 12 weeks, and in person after 26 weeks.
Quit rates were higher for the 300 milligram group every week except the fourth week. After six weeks, 5.6 percent of subjects in the placebo group, 10.7 percent taking 150 milligrams of bupropion, and 14.5 percent taking 300 milligrams of bupropion had quit smoking. At 26 weeks, 10.3 percent of placebo subjects, 3.1 percent of those taking 150 milligrams of bupropion, and 13.9 percent who took 300 milligrams were still not smoking.
The results indicate that although 300 milligrams of bupropion plus counseling were effective in helping teens quit smoking in the short term, quit rates at the end of the treatment were lower than for adults taking the same medication.
The high rate of relapse after medication stopped suggests the need for a longer treatment period than the 12 weeks recommended for adults may be needed.
"This study provides hope for helping a generation of smokers to quit before they become adults," the authors conclude. "These results are critically important because few effective treatment options are available for adolescent smokers who want to quit."
This study noted that fully one fourth of U.S. high school student currently smoke cigarettes.
The study was conducted by Myra L. Muramoto, M.D., M.P.H., Scott Leischow, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and supported by a National Cancer Institute grant, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (financial support for all aspects of the study) and GlaxoSmithKline (maker of bupropion).
Source: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(11):1068-1074