New anti-smoking drug goes on sale in UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new anti-smoking drug that helps reduce cravings and makes smoking less rewarding has been launched in the UK.

The prescription-only drug, called varenicline, works by blocking nicotine from acting on the brain's "reward" receptors.

Demand for help giving up is expected to be high leading up to the launch of smokefree legislation in England on July 1.

Trials have shown that around 44 per cent of former-smokers had not returned to smoking after 12 weeks of using varenicline, which is to be marketed as Champix in the UK.

"Varenicline is a promising new drug specifically designed to help smokers quit and it is a welcome addition to the existing range of treatments available," said Lion Shahab, of Cancer Research UK's Health Behaviour Unit.

"The drug uses a dual mechanism to help reduce cravings and makes smoking less rewarding - together these lower the risk of relapse.

"Judgments about its use are best made by the prescribing doctor in consultation with the smoker."