A new University of Auckland study taking place this year is aimed at the goal of reducing smoking amongst New Zealanders to five per cent or less by 2025.
More than 2000 Māori participants from the Lakes District Health Board region will be involved in the study that compares the effectiveness of two quit smoking aids, Cytisine and Varenicline.
A study involving 200 Māori participants from the Lakes District Health Board region will compare the effectiveness of two quit smoking aids, Cytisine and Varenicline. Photo: Tracy Hardy
The study will be led by Associate Professor Natalie Walker from the University’s National Institute of Health Innovation.
“The Cytisine study focusses on Māori because the rate of smoking is so high in this group and so they potentially have the most to gain from help to quit smoking,” explains Dr Walker.
“We want to find out if the proportion of people who successfully stop smoking after taking Cytisine is similar to those taking Varenicline. If cytisine is effective, has an acceptable safety profile, and is cost-effective, it has substantial potential for use as an alternative treatment to help people quit smoking.”
Dr Walker says cytisine is the cheaper option for a quit medication and is found in kowhai. But while it’s not sourced from the native plant, it may be more acceptable to Māori.
“Our team wants to find out if Cytisine is acceptable, reliable, effective and safe in this population.”
The study team includes Dr Barry Smith (Te Rarawa/ Ngāti Kahu) and includes a kaitiaki advisory group for the team to consult during the research.
Last year, this research group published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the world’s first trial comparing Cytisine to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
The HRC-funded study found that 40 percent using Cytisine were still not smoking after one month, compared 31 percent with NRT. Cytisine was also more effective than NRT at one week, two months and six months.
Those results, the lower costs of Cytisine, and the conclusion that it is ‘more clinically effective and cost effective than varenicline’ lead to the need for a head-to-head trial.
The trial is one of two studies being undertaken by the university, with the second study focussing on the lung condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.
Both studies were funded for a total of just under $2.8 million by the Health Research Council NZ.