Kicking the Hard-Core Habit

May 23, 2011

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer explores the latest in smoking cessation programs and research in the era of public smoking bans, greater research on the genetic underpinnings of nicotine addiction and increased public awareness of the myriad health risks associated with smoking. "In every smoker, there's a non-smoker trying to come out," says Frank Leone, MD, director of Penn's Comprehensive Smoking Treatment Program. "We want to make that as easy and effective as possible. The field has shifted toward being more supportive. 'You deserve not to smoke and here's how we're going to do it.'" Research published last week by Caryn Lerman, PhD, interim director of the Abramson Cancer Center and the Mary W. Calkins Professor of Psychiatry, is also mentioned in the story. "For the first time, we've identified a mechanism that explains why people with a particular genetic background may be more prone to relapse when they try to quit smoking," she said. Nicotine releases brain chemicals such as beta-endorphins, and those with more of these receptors found nicotine more pleasurable. Medications that block the activity of these receptors have had mixed results, but further research may show how they can become more effective, she said... Read More