What makes a smoker want to light up even in the face of obvious health risks? Researchers now believe cigarette smoke triggers a complex chemical reaction in the brain that's hard to resist. But what if you could achieve the same sensation without smoking?
Terry Boatright has a problem -- two pack a week problem. "I wish I wasn't smoking at all."
Jesse Baginski has an even bigger problem. He smokes a pack and a half a day. His lungs have already suffered serious damage. "I've tried the nicotine gum, a couple of different kinds of patches, I even tried hypnosis once," he says.
Researchers at the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center say they now better understand people like Boatright and Baginski's need to smoke. They say smoking releases chemicals in some of the pleasure-producing parts of the brain.
In a study done at the VA center, 20 smokers took a dopamine-increasing drug called bromocriptine and then studied their smoking over a five-hour period. The smoking slowed considerably. A drug that impedes dopamine had the opposite effect.
That's good news for the 47 million smokers in the United States.