Health: Helping Smokers Quit

The Story:

A team of scientists affiliated with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has been testing a method of noninvasive brain stimulation that might be effective at helping heavy tobacco smokers quit.


The method is known as repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS).

In 2003, the World Health Organization created a Global Treaty on Tobacco Control, intended to restrict the sale, advertising, and taxation of tobacco products in signature countries.  More than a hundred countries had signed on within a year.

Yet on the micro-level, getting a particular smoker to quit can be, as so many can attest, a hit-or-miss affair. There is little room for doubt that there is a great market for the sort of treatment on which Professor Abraham Zangen and his colleagues are working.

Their study was supported by BrainsWay, a Jerusalem based medical technology concern founded in 2003. Eight years ago, the FDA approved to use of a TMS device as a treatment for depressive disorders, but its use as a cure for cigarette addiction is a newer idea.

In Pill Form: 

The study found that three weeks of daily magnetic stimulation of the pertinent portions of the brain (the lateral prefrontal cortex and the insula) “is a safe and effective intervention that double the quit rate” among test subjects.

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