As smokers and ex-smokers, we know what it’s like to be bombarded with quit smoking products or stop smoking programs. Wading through all of the various tools, techniques and smoking cessation products can be overwhelming, especially if you are in the middle of the stressful withdrawal process. So we decided to put together a clear-cut selection of the best quit smoking aids on the market. Just remmeber that this is not a ranked list, you may have to try a few before you find the tool that works for you. So withour further adieu, here is our list:
1. Electronic Cigarettes
E-cigarettes come in two main forms; the first, a nicotine-containing e-cigarette, and the second, an e-cigarette that has no nicotine but still creates the vapor. For individuals who have difficulty with stress when quitting smoking, simply having a non-nicotine-containing e-cigarette can distract enough to get through a stressful situation without smoking. For others, e-cigarettes that include nicotine can provide a way to get their nicotine fix while minimizing exposure to the many harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, like tar and carbon monoxide. While using a nicotine-based e-cigarette isn’t exactly quitting cold turkey, it is a much less harmful way to consume nicotine. And that’s why it’s on our list as one of the best quit smoking aids of the year. We just published our Guide to Smokeless Cigarettes if you’re interested in learning more!
How to Use E-Cigarettes
The directions for each E-cigarette may vary, depending on the brand you choose. Most E-cigarettes will require you to open the back of the e-cigarette, and load a small nicotine or water vapor cartridge into a cylindrical hole. From there, you replace the cap, and puff on the cigarette as you normally would. Whether you choose to use nicotine or not, you will get nice big plumes of vapor that will help you forget all about your real cigarettes.
2. Nicotine Gum
Much like the nicotine-containing e-cigarette, nicotine gum delivers a small dose of nicotine when chewed. It, too, contains only the gum itself and nicotine. Nicotine gum is helpful to those who wish to be able to deliver a dose of nicotine anywhere, and can help to temporarily reduce the stress of cravings or stressful situations. In the first few weeks after you quit, nicotine gum can help to prevent a relapse while you deal with stress.
How to Use Nicotine Gum
The directions for using most brands of nicotine gum are quite simple. Nicotine gum is not chewed in the same manner as regular gum; instead, most nicotine gum requires a unique chewing method. Many brands refer to this as “chew and park.” This is a reference to the fact that quitters should chew the gum several times, and then place it to rest between the gum and the lower lip. This allows the nicotine to be delivered sublingually, as it is absorbed through the thin mouth tissues. You should not eat or drink anything for 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after using nicotine gum.
3. Nicotine Inhalers
Nicotine inhalers work in the same way that e-cigarettes work, but they do not appear to “smoke” in the same way. They are not shaped or designed to look like cigarettes, and may be a better choice for those working in smoke-free environments. Inhalers deliver a small dose of nicotine each time the user “puffs” on them. They are quite similar to the e-cigarette, but do not mimic the behaviors associated with smoking or the look of a cigarette in quite the same manner.
How to Use Nicotine Inhalers
Check the directions on your nicotine inhaler package for delivery instructions. Most nicotine inhalers work in a similar way to e-cigarettes; you will need to load a cartridge containing nicotine into the back of the inhaler, after unscrewing the cap. The cap is then placed back onto the container. The user places the inhalation end of the device into their mouth, and literally “inhales” or breaths in the nicotine through the device.
4. Nicotine Patches
Wearing a nicotine patch can help to ease you down from cigarettes, and may prevent some of the stress that is directly associated with nicotine withdrawal. Most users use a single patch per day, wearing it from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. The patch helps to smooth out the sudden drop of nicotine levels in the blood. Patches are applied to the skin, and contain a small amount of nicotine in the central area of the patch.
How to Use Nicotine Patches
To use your nicotine patch, most brands will require you to place the patch directly on clean skin. It can be helpful to swab the area with an alcohol swab prior to application; this is especially true if you have difficulty keeping the patch on during the day. Because the patch may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin, you should keep an eye on your patch for the first 24-48 hours of use. If you notice very red skin, blistering, or experience intense burning or itching, you should remove the patch immediately. Most patches are used for 12 – 24 hours at a time, and come in a variety of dosages.
5. Nicotine Mouth Spray
Nicotine mouth spray works by delivering a small dose of nicotine sublingually, or via the gums and thin skin inside the mouth. Usually, the spray is flavored to reduce the bitter flavor of the nicotine itself. These sprays can be used as often as you would normally smoke a cigarette, and can be very helpful for warding off cravings.
How to Use Nicotine Mouth Spray
You should not use nicotine mouth spray if you have smoked in the last 12 hours. You will then need to hold the dispenser towards your open mouth, with your finger on the depressor. Then, press down on the depressor up to two times. If you find that the dispenser is not releasing any mist, try pointing it away from your face and pushing on the depressor several times in rapid succession. This will prime the pump if it hasn’t been used frequently. You may use a maximum of two sprays at a time, for a maximum of 4 sprays per hour. You should not exceed 64 sprays in a 24-hour period.
Note: Ensure Safety When Using Smoking Cessation Products that Contain Nicotine
Just because they aren’t tobacco cigarettes doesn’t mean you can still get nicotine poisoning! If you’re chewing nicotine gum, puffing on an e-cigarette and wearing the patch, you’re doing it wrong.
Hypnosis, normally directed by a therapist, can be helpful for quitters. It is one of the most misunderstood stop smoking aids because a lot of people don’t believe in hypnosis. Hypnosis involves calming the mind and using meditation, visualization, relaxation, and guided imagery to train the mind to focus on specific goals or outcomes. Therapists believe that hypnosis has the ability to reach the subconscious, allowing the subconscious aspects of nicotine addiction to be broken. The mind is more receptive to suggestion when it relaxed. If hypnosis achieves nothing else, it can ease stress, anxiety, anger, and depression for a short period of time, allowing the quitter to focus on the task at hand. For some individuals, hypnosis alone is enough to quit smoking permanently. Others seem to be “immune” to hypnosis, and may not respond in quite the same manner.
How to Use Hypnosis
Typically, hypnosis is a guided process that should be given by a licensed, experienced therapist. Some therapists specialize in only hypnosis; others provide hypnosis as an adjunct to a full therapy experience. Ensure that the therapist you choose is licensed, registered, and qualified to provide hypnosis before beginning your experience.
Many quitters have found acupuncture and acupressure to be quite effective when quitting smoking. Acupuncturists place tiny needles into the first few layers of skin in specific areas of the body. These specific areas are said to trigger changes in the body that can encourage healing. Acupressure follows the same theory, but simply applies pressure to various areas of the body, removing the need to puncture the skin at all. Either of these therapies should be delivered by a qualified professional.
Medications to help you quit smoking are now available in the United States, and may be appropriate for some. These medications reduce cravings, stress, or depression associated with the quitting process. One of the most common medications used to help quitters succeed is Zyban, also known by the generic name bupropion. This medication is classed as an aminoketone drug, and works by increasing and regulating dopamine and other brain chemicals. It has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of cigarette cravings. Because this medication can take up to three weeks to become effective, it should be started three weeks before your quit date. Many people who use Zyban find the medication reduces their need to smoke cigarettes even before their quit date begins. Zyban is not without side effects; it can cause weakness, rapid heart rates, and may cause serious depression in some individuals. It should only be prescribed by a physician who can monitor your progress closely. Here at Quit Smoking Community, we really don’t recommend Chantix or Zyban unless you really can’t quit any other way. It does work for some people but it is definitely the most dangerous quit smoking product out there right now.
9. Peer Support
Peer support is incredibly important to the quitter. In fact, having the right supports in place before you quit can often make or break your success. Online support networks and communities can be immensely helpful to those who have internet access, and are provided mostly free of charge. Online communities can provide peer guidance, and a place to vent when cravings becoming overwhelming. Because an online community is always available, the quitter can key in a message about how they are feeling at just about any time of night or day. Freedom From Smoking, Quitnet.com, and BecomeAnEx.org all offer peer support forums where smokers can link up with other quitters to share experiences.
Starting a therapeutic relationship with a therapist is a great way to gain support through the quitting process. While it may seem like quitting smoking is “not serious enough” to seek therapy for, many find the guidance invaluable. Short-term therapy with a counselor or psychologist can help you to address each trigger as it occurs without becoming overwhelmed and vaving in to your cravings. Therapy can also help you to form coping skills for the future, preventing you from making healthier, more beneficial choices.
Free Quit Smoking Products and Services!
Quitlines are also available in the United States. These lines are staffed throughout the daytime in nearly every state; however, hours of availability may vary. Quitlines provide peer counseling for quitters who are having a difficult time remaining free of cigarettes. Throughout the continental United States, quitters can reach their local quit line by dialing 1-800-QUIT-NOW from any telephone. This will connect the caller with a peer counselor who is trained to listen and respond to the quitter.
12. Local Support Groups
Local peer support groups are also an effective choice for support. Because smoking is a true addiction, some NA or AA-like groups do exist for those who wish to quit. One of the most well-known of these groups is Nicotine Anonymous. These groups allow ex-smokers to lean on one another through the quitting process and as long afterward as is necessary.
In-person local support groups can also be helpful. Most in-person groups are run by therapists or addictions specialists who work in local offices or treatment centers. Check with local addictions and cancer centers to find groups local to you. Different groups may have very different approaches to the quitting process, so ask plenty of questions before committing yourself to any one group.
13. Smartphone Apps
Technology is very helpful to the quitter with a smartphone. Today, many apps exist to help these individuals stay on track and say no to cigarettes. Apps are available for Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry devices, as well as iPad and IPod. Several of the most popular smoking cessation apps include the following:
LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach (iPhone)
Quit It Lite (iPhone)
Quit Smoking (Android)
My Last Cigarette (iPhone)
Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation (Android)
Craving To Quit (iPhone)
Butt Out (iPhone)
UCSF/SFGH Stop Smoking (iPhone)
These apps all offer a slightly different experience to the end user who is quitting, but can be an invaluable way to stay on track while on the go.
These are the smoking cessation tools that we approve of (besides maybe Chantix). So go out there and see if anything works for you. You can quit and these tools are all great resources to make it happen! And also make sure to check out our 15 Benefits of Quitting Smoking!