Nearly 13 in every 100 Americans are smokers, and most are actively trying to quit. The CDC notes a steady decline in smoking prevalence over the past decades. From 20.9% in 2005, it dropped to 12.5% in 2020. Despite this positive outlook, many struggle to quit smoking successfully. Going into the cessation process blind severe hampers efforts, especially for longtime or heavy smokers dependent on the habit. Thus, knowing which quit-smoking methods are helpful and effective is important, as this will allow you to determine which works best for you. That said, here are some proven cigarette alternatives you can explore.
Go electronic with vapes.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vapes, are battery-powered devices that heat nicotine-containing liquid and turn it into vapor. Vapes like JUUL emulate the experience of taking a drag, as you need to inhale and exhale the smoke to absorb nicotine. The key difference is there is no burning tobacco to damage your lungs. This way, you get a nicotine fix in controlled, less harmful dosages.
Vapes come in various forms–like tanks, pipes, cigars–and flavors. Interestingly enough, research indicates that vape flavors contribute to the success of a quit attempt. As our article on how “Vaping Could Help Adults” elaborated, 34% of smokers find it more effective when vapes don’t taste like tobacco. Instead, flavors like mint, bubblegum, and berries help smokers disassociate nicotine from tobacco and thus wean off cigarettes successfully.
Use nicotine pouches
If refraining from going through the motions of drag will be more beneficial to your cessation, you can turn to nicotine pouches instead. A type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), these smokeless tobacco products are FDA-approved and reduce cigarette cravings by giving you controlled amounts of nicotine over time. The steady nicotine fix is something longtime smokers may appreciate, as it eases rather than abruptly cuts off their exposure.
Meant to be tucked under the upper lip, nicotine pouches eliminate the undesirable side effects of tobacco to make for a convenient and relaxing experience. To illustrate, ZYN nicotine pouches are completely white and carry a variety of flavors, including mint, citrus, and cinnamon. This means they won’t stain your teeth or give you bad breath, unlike cigarettes or other combustible options, while providing a satisfying experience. What’s more, nicotine pouches can easily be purchased over the counter or online.
Explore nicotine inhalers
In contrast to long-acting nicotine pouches, nicotine inhalers are fast-acting NRTs that can come in handy when withdrawal symptoms suddenly hit. For this reason, many smokers prefer to use products such as Nicotrol inhalers in the early stages of quitting, as this allows them to address cravings in immediate, frequent, yet safer ways.
Although they may seem similar in concept to vapes, inhalers differ because the nicotine released does not course through the lungs via deep inhales. Instead, the cartilage-dispensed mist is immediately absorbed into the mouth and throat through short, shallow puffs. This also effectively removes the need to spit, a side effect of smoking that many find unpleasant. However, unlike pouches, inhalers require a prescription as they are used under medical supervision.
Consider trying acupuncture
Acupuncture addresses specific ailments and conditions by targeting specific bodily areas. Thin needles are inserted into pressure points to stimulate energy; for smokers, it’s the ears. Through them, the cranial nerves are stimulated to suppress cravings. Outside of sessions, ear seeds (i.e., small balls) are taped on these areas as a form of self-treatment.
A natural approach to cessation, acupuncture works on Chinese medicinal concepts of energy flow. It helps you off the nicotine addiction by detoxifying the substance in your body. The best part is that it leaves no side effects but leads to side benefits, including improved moods and a better quality of sleep–both important in setting the tone for quitting smoking. When you’re less tired and moody, as withdrawals often result, you can remain focused on finishing.
Build healthy habits
It’s well-known that smoking can lead to adverse health conditions such as stroke, cancer, and heart and chronic lung disease, among others. All these put you at risk of prematurely dying three times more likely than a non-smoker. By transitioning to a healthier lifestyle and replacing cigarettes with diet and exercise, you can lower the odds and even add years to your life.
This may be easier said than done, so ease into the process by starting small, like drinking more water. When paired with a balanced diet, this flushes nicotine out of the body and can prevent withdrawals by ensuring your body receives the proper nutrients to remain happy and healthy. Clocking in some exercise, no matter how quick, can also keep your mind off cravings by regulating your hormones and, thus, improving your mood.
The cessation journey is not linear. Some days will be easy, while others will be tough, particularly when cravings or withdrawals hit. It’s not impossible, though, as those who have succeeded will attest, especially once you figure out the right cessation method. In time, you, too,, can overcome the habit.