E-cigarettes, although controversial, have been proven to help smokers wean themselves off regular cigarettes. The effects and benefits are similar to vaping, primarily that it is much less harmful than smoking regular tobacco, as they do not contain the other more harmful ingredients associated with cigarettes. In fact, a study by Public Health England in 2015 concluded that e-cigarettes were 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
It’s thought that e-cigarettes help smokers to quit as using them mirrors the behavioural habits of smoking, as well as the fact that it is also possible to control and lower the dosage of nicotine over time.
2. Nicotine gum
Chewing nicotine gum is a method of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), which is a medically approved group of techniques in order to intake nicotine in ways other than tobacco. It is used in order to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms that are often associated with quitting smoking, without consuming the dangerous chemicals found in tobacco.
Nicotine gum is widely available and can be bought over the counter with no need for a prescription. Similar to e-cigarettes, users should decrease the dose of gum slowly over time (the maximum intake recommended is no more than one for every hour of the day; 24 pieces a day).
Another controversial method on the list, Snus is a moist form of tobacco that is usually put into little pouches, a bit like tea bags, and tucked under the lip. The sale of Scandinavian snus is banned throughout the EU, except in Sweden. The reason behind the ban is primarily due to its link to mouth cancer, however this has been heavily disputed. Furthermore, its harmful effects are outweighed massively by those related to smoking regular tobacco.
Snus has made it onto our list because although it has controversial health risks, it can be used as a much lower risk alternative to cigarette smoking, but it’s still important to be aware it is not completely risk-free.
Perhaps the best way of assessing its advantages is to look at Scandinavian countries, where it is very commonly used as an alternative to smoking tobacco. In fact, a survey in 2017 showed that just 5% of Swedes smoke cigarettes on a daily basis, compared with an average of 24% across the rest of the EU.
4. Nicotine patches
Another popular method of NRT, nicotine patches regulate the amount of nicotine absorbed into your bloodstream. Like the gum, they aim to stop you reaching for a cigarette by reducing nicotine cravings. As with all methods under the NRT umbrella, studies have shown that they are much more effective combined, not just used on their own.
It’s best to give several NRT methods a try and see what suits you most. A method that is effective for one person may be less effective for another, again due to behavioural and addiction habits.
5. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapy commonly used by many medical professionals in order to treat a huge variety of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. CBT works by identifying negative thoughts or feelings, and finding ways in which you can deal with these differently.
Many people who smoke will have a cigarette when they are stressed and need to relax. CBT can help you find alternative ways to cope with stressors or negative feelings, instead of turning to smoking. This is why it has been successfully used to help smokers to quit.