Can't Quit Smoking? It May Be In Your DNA

Donna Grissom has tried everything.

"Over the years, I tried the patches, gum," she says, adding that she failed every time. But now, scientists say "quitting smoking" is less about determination and more about DNA, CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports.

In a study released Monday, scientists identified more than 200 genes that distinguish successful quitters from the unsuccessful. Eighty percent of smokers who will try to quit this year will fail.

"Only one in four people use drugs to help them. We could get better success if smokers would use what is out there," says Dr. Nancy Rigotti of Harvard Medical School.

Grissom is. She's taking a newly approved drug called Chantix. It works by attaching to neurons in the brain, blocking the pleasure sensation of smoking.

"My urge did go away. The cravings weren't as much," Grissom says.

But even on Chantix, half the quitters relapse after a year. Scientists are researching another drug called Nic-Vax ... as in vaccination. The series of shots are designed to prevent nicotine from entering the brain and causing addiction.

"They don't get the pleasure they have normally experienced," says Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami of the University of Minnesota.

After 20 years of smoking and trying to quit, Ken Kleinpaste joined the Nic-Vax trial to give it one last shot.

He hasn't smoked in seven months.

"I can smell and breathe better," he adds.

Scientists hope the new information about the genes that help us stop smoking could help doctors find the best way to make it stick. After all, quitting is easy. Many smokers have done that hundreds of times.

To learn about ways to quit smoking, you can go to:
  • Palisadesmedical
  • Chantix
  • Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use And Dependence