Great news for those looking to quit smoking! Researchers have found that Cystine, an affordable generic smoking cessation aid prevalent in Eastern Europe since the 1960s, increases the chances of smoking cessation by more than twofold compared to a placebo. They also say it might be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy.

Cytisine is a plant-based compound that was first synthesized in Bulgaria in 1964 as a low-cost drug that eases smoking withdrawal symptoms. The drug soon became popular in other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. However, it is not licensed in many countries, including the U.S.

Smoking results in eight million premature deaths annually and is one of the main causes of preventable deaths worldwide. More than 16 million people in the U.S. live with a disease caused by smoking. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Based on the findings of the latest study, researchers hope the drug Cytisine, if made available in more countries, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LAMI countries), could make a big difference to global health.

Researchers say the drug has a benign safety profile and has no evidence of serious safety concerns.

"Our study adds to the evidence that Cytisine is an effective and inexpensive stop-smoking aid. It could be very useful in reducing smoking in LAMI countries where cost-effective smoking cessation drugs are urgently needed. Worldwide, smoking is considered the main cause of preventable death. Cytisine has the potential to be one of the big answers to that problem," Dr. Omar De Santi, the lead author of the study, said in a news release.

The team evaluated the results of eight randomized controlled trials that compared the use of Cytisine with placebo in smoking cessation. The trials involved nearly 6,000 people. The results showed that Cytisine improves the chance of successful smoking cessation by more than twofold.

When compared with nicotine replacement therapy, two trials showed modest results in favor of Cytisine. However, three other trials comparing Cytisine with varenicline did not show a clear benefit for the drug.