THE BLOG

Time to Die! (Oops, I Mean Time To Quit!)

06/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Doug Bremner Physician, professor, researcher, writer, and filmmaker

I was sitting in my car dealership today waiting to get service on my car and working on my laptop while the television was droning on in front of me. I mean this is one of the rare times when I watch TV without the benefit of TiVo to pause the commercials or otherwise avoid them.

And it was like one prescription medication ad after another! They were only punctuated by an ad for a device for diabetics to check their blood sugar at home. All I can say is they better get Ronald McDonald ("Don't forget to feed the waste baskets...") back on TV so that they can keep those diabetics rolling in to buy their blood glucose testers (not to mention their Avandia and Actos).

Anyhoo one of the ads that caught my eye was of a woman who droned on about how she needed a cigarette to wake up, one in the car, one at 10 am ... Boy, I know that drill. I kicked the habit by writing a book that advocated diet, exercise and lifestyle changes over prescription medications for health (works every time! No relapses!).

But enough of my narcissism, back to the "My Time to Quit" campaign by the makers of the anti-smoking drug Chantix, which was gleefully playing across the screen at my auto dealership and interfering with my ability to concentrate on more important things like writing a book chapter that no one would ever read.

This drug affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which regulates emotion, and has been associated with depression, psychosis, and suicidality. It made headlines when a famous country music singer from Texas who was on the drug accosted a neighbor in an apparently psychotic state of mind and was shot dead.

Thanks, Texas home invasion gun laws!

What's really annoying is that the clinical trials of Chantix excluded people with mental disorders, but smoking is increased in this population, and these people are obviously at increased risk of suicidality. In spite of this the spokespersons for Chantix say it is fine for people with depression and other mental disorders to go ahead and take Chantix.

When I think of Chantix, in spite of the PR campaign to the contrary, rather than thinking,

Time To Quit!

The image that comes to mind is of (Governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger about to finally eliminate a robot in one of the Terminator movies when he says...

Time to die!

Oh well, maybe I'll start humming along with the "life saving drugs" theme song one of these days.