More than 2000 local smokers will have the chance to give up for free as part of a new trial of stop smoking aids.

The trial comparing the effectiveness of two similar medicines which help people stop smoking is a collaboration between the University of Auckland, Brunel University London, and Lakes District Health Board, with support from Tipu Ora, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

The researchers are looking for 2140 people who smoke cigarettes every day, identify as Maori or are whanau of Maori, want to quit smoking in the next two weeks, are 18 or over, not pregnant and live in the Lakes District Health Board region.

They must have daily access to a mobile phone that can text and/or email and have access to the internet via smartphone or computer. Only one person per household will be accepted.

Participants must have tried but failed to quit smoking using other quit smoking medicines like nicotine patches or gum, Zyban, or Norpress and have not used Tabex or Champix in the past 12 months.

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The Rauora study compares two similar medicines, known by their brand names Tabex and Champix, to see how good they are at helping people to stop smoking cigarettes.

Tabex and Champix help people quit in the same way by helping make nicotine withdrawal feelings less severe and reduce the feeling of reward people get from smoking.

SantanaNgamoki (left),Wetini Paul and Eru George are involved in the research. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
SantanaNgamoki (left),Wetini Paul and Eru George are involved in the research. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

What wasn't known was whether one medicine is better than the other, or whether they are equally good at helping people give up.

Wetini Paul, a member of the Rotorua-based research team, said researchers wanted to see which drug worked better.

Tabex has been used for more than 40 years in Central and Eastern Europe but is not approved or registered in New Zealand as a smoking cessation treatment, so is not easily available.

Tabex contains cytisine, which is obtained from a plant called the Golden Rain. Cytisine is also found in several New Zealand plants, including the kowhai.

Mr Paul said anyone who had been thinking of quitting smoking should volunteer to take part.

"The whole idea of this is for the principles we hold as Maori," he said.

"Maori health statistics don't reflect very well, so in order to quit smoking, that would provide a great boost in those statistics."

There were also financial benefits to giving up smoking, which should encourage people to take part in the study as well, Mr Paul said.

He hoped to get approval for the use of cytisine in New Zealand if the trial showed it worked.

"It would mean we're able to utilise what basically grows naturally here," he said.

Mr Paul hoped the trial helped Tabex gain approval so those looking to stop smoking in New Zealand had more options.

"All our participants will be randomised into one of two groups, Tabex and Champix. We will also be offering behavioural support."

The researchers would offer a set amount of support, whether it be group sessions, individual sessions or over the phone support, Mr Paul said.

Anyone meeting the criteria can contact the researchers on freephone 0800 367 644, free text: 'your name' + 'RAUORA' to 4073, email: rauoratrial@auckland.ac.nz or through Facebook: @RAUORAtrial.

More information can be found at https://rauora.nihi.auckland.ac.nz.