The Nic Fix

Put down your lighters and pick up your health care cards—, nicotine vaccines are in the works

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And even vaccinated smokers will still fight the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that occur once nicotine is out of a person's system. For these a smoker needs behavioral therapy, counseling or extreme willpower.

Fortunately, the side effects aren't too ugly. Rousing the immune system is taxing and can cause flu-like symptoms. Also, some people who receive the vaccine and continue smoking find that cigarettes taste different—much less strong, and a bit like chalk.

Of course, that's better than cardboard or perspiration.

The real Wishful Thinkers behind this column were Dorothy Hatsukami of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, who predicts it will be "probably not three years but probably not eight" until a smoking vaccine is used widely, and Paul Pentel of the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center.

Have an idea that should be thought about wishfully? E-mail it here.


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