Alternatives to Smoking
To help committed quitters with overcoming the major hurdle of giving up long-established smoking habits, here are 8 daily rituals that can take the place of traditional cigarette breaks.
So you’re ready to quit. After the first big decision to ditch cigarettes, smokers face the next crucial step in
the path to a smoke-free lifestyle: choosing a quit-smoking aid. With several options for nicotine replacement
therapy on the market, safety and efficacy should factor in for your best chance at success. Patches, gums, lozenges
e-cigarettes are all methods commonly perceived as smoking-cessation aids—but only three of them are FDA-approved over-the-counter stop-smoking aids. Read on for what you need to know about e-cigarettes and the over-the-counter aids that are FDA-approved quit methods.
E-cigarette FDA Regulation and Effectiveness
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and e-cigarettes aren’t FDA-approved smoking-cessation aids. In order for an e-cigarette manufacturer to make a therapeutic claim that a product can help smokers quit, the manufacturer has to prove safety and efficacy in clinical trials. Since e-cigarettes do not claim to help smokers quit, they’re regulated by the FDA as a tobacco product, not as a smoking-cessation aid.1
Quit Method: Nicotine Replacement Therapy
This well-established method is a safe and effective stop-smoking aid that’s available over the counter and has been FDA-approved for over 20 years.2 Nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, is a gradual strategy that helps addicted smokers wean their bodies off nicotine. It’s been recognized to double the chances of successfully quitting.3,4 NRT delivers controlled amounts of nicotine (less and less over time if used as directed) without the harmful chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products until you no longer need it. Over-the-counter NRTs come in patch, gum and lozenge form.5
Transdermal nicotine patches adhere like a bandage and deliver nicotine through the skin. Nicotine patches steadily supply the nicotine your body is used to throughout the day, which can help curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms. NicoDerm CQ paces you in two or three steps, depending on the number of cigarettes smoked per day—Step 1 if you smoke over 10 cigarettes a day and Steps 2 and 3 if you smoke fewer than 10 per day. NRTs like NicoDerm CQ are medications, so follow the intended use instructions listed in the Drug Facts or as directed by your doctor.6,7
While the patch gives you discreet, ongoing relief, oral NRTs are another over-the-counter option that gives the smoker control of intake, not to mention oral stimulation through the use of a gum or lozenge. Rather than a patch’s nicotine release via the skin, an NRT lozenge or gum delivers nicotine through the lining of the mouth. If you prefer an oral NRT, the Nicorette Lozenge can give you long-lasting craving relief,* while the Mini Lozenge provides fast relief in as little as three minutes.** Nicotine gum provides ongoing craving relief as you chew. Nicorette Gum is available in two different strengths: 4 mg, if you smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up, and 2 mg, if your first cigarette is more than 30 minutes after waking. Combining behavioral support alongside NRT has been shown to increase your chances of success. Be sure to read the enclosed User’s Guide for your preferred NRT method, and consider combining your NRT with behavioral support provided by Quit.com and MyQuit.8,9,10 You can sign up for the MyQuit program on quit.com for customized support delivered to your inbox.
NRT FDA Regulation and Effectiveness
Over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are all FDA-approved stop-smoking aids and can double your chances of success, according to the Food and Drug Administration.11 The FDA’s stamp of approval means the products are safe and effective when used as directed to quit smoking.12 To increase your success rate, NRT should be used according to the directions provided. And, while it’s meant to be temporary, stopping nicotine replacement therapy too soon can bring on strong cravings, strong cravings, so don’t rush to beat an eight- 10- or 12-week duration.13
*4 mg only
** 4 mg only. Craving relief in as little as 3 minutes.
Quitting smoking has many benefits—it can improve your health, your family’s health, your finances, your work performance and even your spare cash. Everyone faces cravings and the threat of relapsing along the quit journey, but staying the course far outweighs the immediate satisfaction a relapse provides. Tobacco risks and the myriad health and lifestyle advantages of quitting offer overwhelmingly promising incentives to stay strong. Here are five compelling short- and long-term reasons to maintain your new, smoke-free lifestyle.
The most obvious motivation to stop smoking, your health can greatly benefit from both immediate and long-term effects of quitting.
Quitting can add years to your life. As the number one preventable cause of death, smoking can shorten your lifespan, but it doesn’t have to. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, but the 6 million tobacco-caused deaths per year are preventable.1
Quitting reduces the risk of multiple cancers including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, types of lung diseases, infertility and low birth weight in the babies of pregnant women who stop smoking during pregnancy.2
For additional effects, you’ll see results as soon as the first weeks and months after quitting. Your heart rate decreases, your sense of taste and smell returns, and your sleep improves, restoring your energy both physically and mentally3. Lung function—including coughing, wheezing and other respiratory symptoms—gets better.4,5
The sooner you quit, the greater the chance of reducing risk of disease and early death. But quitting at any age has health benefits and can reduce disease risks more swiftly, as with heart disease risk (reduced within one to two years after you quit).6
Quitting benefits not only your health but those around you. Stay on track for loved ones who are exposed to secondhand smoke if you relapse, especially children and teens who take behavioral cues from the adults in their lives. When exposed to secondhand smoke, non-smokers breathe in the same toxic chemicals as smokers, which means it’s almost as harmful as if they were smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, causes lung cancer, and has possible links to other cancer types, including larynx, throat, nasal sinuses, brain, stomach and breast. Secondhand smoke may also be linked to mental health issues like depression.7
Staying quit reduces health risks to children, with infants and young children at the greatest risk for the harmful effects of secondhand smoking. Children who are involuntary smokers have more health problems, including bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and breathing problems like coughing, wheezing and asthma. Secondhand smoke triggers asthma attacks in children who already have the condition, as well as sparking new asthma cases in kids.8
Your influence on older children and teens is another reason to stay quit. Kids of parents who smoked at any time in their life are more likely to smoke. There are also increased chances of smoking among siblings in families with a history of smoking. Younger siblings are six times as likely to smoke if the oldest child smokes. After you quit, you can try to break the cycle in the next generation by educating your teens that smoking can make their own kids more likely to smoke in the future.9
Besides the ultimate price you could pay (your life), the cost of smoking is expensive financially. The cost of smoking a pack a day averages to $6.18 a day, or more than $2,255 annually.10 Not enough to convince you? Add up the insurance costs, out-of-pocket medical bills and time off work you spend each year to treat health issues associated with smoking. For the health industry, the U.S. spends almost $170 billion in medical care for smokers each year.11
Each year, smoking causes more than $156 billion in lost productivity because of premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Combine the cost of lost productivity to the cost of healthcare for Americans who smoke, and the total economic price tag on smoking tops $300 billion a year.12 With the added costs of employing a smoker impacting the bottom line, some companies offer incentives and programs for quitting.
Data has shown that by quitting, you could even impact how much money you earn.13 So throw those cigarettes away—and give yourself a potential raise. Not only will quitting save you thousands annually, the cost of smoking can impact your income: One analysis concluded that smokers tend to earn less than non-smokers, estimating that smokers make 15.6 percent less than non-smokers.14
If you fear that you might slip up during your quit, there are three types of over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products to choose from. An extra piece of Nicorette Gum within an hour of taking the first one may help you get through your craving. If you need to use your NRT longer than directed to keep from smoking, you should talk to your healthcare provider. For lasting craving relief, try Nicorette Lozenges, which release a low dose of therapeutic nicotine into the bloodstream for a controlled amount that your body absorbs gradually to suppress withdrawal symptoms like cravings, irritable mood, anxiety, restlessness, and even insomnia and depressed mood. For sudden cravings, treat with Nicorette Mini Lozenges for fast relief.* As a flexible NRT for either strong or frequent cravings, you can use Nicorette Gum, and to prevent cravings, treat with the NicoDerm CQ Patch at 21 mg. Nicotine replacement therapy has a well-established safety profile, and helps reduce your risk of smoking and restarting the cycle you worked so hard to break.15 If you do relapse—don’t give up hope (it can take eight or more tries to quit successfully). Start your treatment plan again with your preferred NRT. Use the experience as a lesson the next time you’re tempted to smoke: were the embarrassment, letdown or physical symptoms worth that one cigarette? Consider it as motivation to pull through.
* 4 mg only. Craving relief in as little as 3 minutes.
If you don’t already have a nicotine replacement therapy aid and a regular fitness routine, use a nicotine patch like NicoDerm CQ and set a goal for 10-minute exercise sessions until you build up to 30 minutes a day.2
Instead of smoking within 30 minutes of waking up, move your workout to the morning. If your smoker’s instinct kicks in after meals, get your 30 minutes of daily exercise with three 10-minute walks after each meal.
If you quit smoking and integrate exercise at the same time, you may see a reduction in weight gain, a common result of quitting. Try an upper-body strengthening exercise for 10 minutes if you find yourself trading cigarettes for snacks.
When you smoke, your heart and lungs work overtime. Exercise to help them return to normal—and help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.4 Vary your aerobic repertoire with 10 minutes of walking, biking, swimming or dancing.
Exercise can help distract you from a craving.5 When you have one, use a breathing exercise to intake more oxygen and strengthen breathing muscles. Try this for 10 minutes: breathe in through your nose for two counts and out of pursed lips for four counts.6
Consider your fitness plan in the long run while quitting smoking. Stay on a smoke-free track that includes regular exercise, challenging yourself when you’re ready to build from 10 minutes to 30 minutes of daily exercise.
A gym session can be a smart tactic for powering through a cigarette craving. Thankfully, research suggests a real link between exercise and quitting smoking. With your doctor’s approval, try these 10-minute physical activities—the length of time it takes for a craving to pass.1
“Been a smoker for 45 years. Decided 8 months ago to quit. I’ve been successful using the lozenges. I’m happy and so is my doctor!”
"It's been 13 years since I quit. I used NicoDerm CQ and I never smoked again. Thanks NicoDerm CQ!!"
“This has been a total lifesaver for me. I am not a heavy smoker but definitely do smoke about 1-3 a day. With the Nicorette gum, I am smoke-free now for 2 weeks. No cravings and when I have them... I just eat a piece gum.”