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01.12.2019 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Trials 1/2019

N-acetylcysteine for cessation of tobacco smoking: rationale and study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Trials > Ausgabe 1/2019
Lauren Arancini, Chiara C. Bortolasci, Seetal Dodd, Olivia M. Dean, Michael Berk
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13063-019-3628-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Tobacco smoking is a highly prevalent, addictive behaviour and a key public health priority. However available cessation therapies have low quit and high relapse rates, indicating an urgent need for more effective treatments. Predicated on promising preclinical and pilot clinical data, this paper presents a rationale and protocol for the trial of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as a novel anti-craving smoking cessation aid.


Current smokers (n = 120) of at least 10 cigarettes a day are recruited through online advertisements, print publications and dissemination of flyers. Participants are randomised on a 1:1 ratio to receive either 16-week treatment of 1.8 g/day of NAC or placebo with all participants receiving quit support from the online QuitCoach tool. Participants are attending visits at baseline, 8 and 16 weeks with a 42-week post-discontinuation follow-up. The primary outcome measure is sustained abstinence at six months after treatment based on self-reported rating scales and confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide and salivary cotinine levels. Secondary outcomes are timing of the first lapse and relapse, between-group cigarette consumption, withdrawal symptoms, general wellbeing and mood/anxiety symptoms. Between-group differences in adverse events and subgroup analyses for variables including gender and Diagnostic Statistics Manual 5 diagnostics will also be investigated.


The planned trial addresses an issue of major importance to human health and, if an effect is shown, may result in substantial changes to the management of smoking and nicotine addiction with overt public health implications.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials registry (ANZCTR), ACTRN12617001478​303. Registered on 19 October 2017.
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