As you contemplate quitting smoking, you may wonder just how successful you’ll be. You may have heard of some alternatives to smoking, but others may be new to you. Some of these still allow you to inhale an aerosol or a steam that enables you to continue to ingest nicotine. As you consider healthy alternatives to smoking cigarettes, you should know that some of these methods still aren’t completely understood. Other alternatives to smoking have been shown to be safe—but these cessation aids should be kept out of the reach of children, because nicotine is considered to be a poison.
As you get through each day without a cigarette, reward yourself for each day you’ve been successful. Think of realistic items you could use to reward yourself, such as a book or item of clothing you’ve wanted to buy. These rewards should be affordable, because, as you mark more and more successful days, you’re going to need to have one of those rewards waiting for you.
Other rewards can include:
- Eating out at your favorite restaurant
- Going to a movie
- Buying something you enjoy
- Indulging in your favorite craft
E-Cigarettes and Vaping *
E-cigarettes have become popular in the last few years. These devices are actually electronic cigarettes that deliver pure nicotine in the form of a vapor. You may have seen people using one of these e-cigarettes. While the vapor looks just like smoke, it isn’t.
The nicotine liquid can be flavored, which has led to teens experimenting with “vaping” or smoking e-cigarettes. The health effects of e-cigarettes and the nicotine liquid are still not well known, so some municipalities have banned vaping for teens.
How are e-cigarettes made and how do they work? They are made up of a cartridge that holds the nicotine solution, a vaporizer and a power source—this is usually a small battery.
You operate the e-cigarette by puffing through the mouthpiece. This activates the heating device, which turns the solution into a vapor. You inhale the vapor, which contains nicotine. If there is an advantage to vaping, it is that the smoker gets only the nicotine. They don’t get any of the harmful substances that are found in traditional cigarettes. Another possible advantage: Because the strength of the solution varies, you can begin to wean yourself off nicotine by using progressively weaker strengths of the vaping solution.
Smoking is highly oral. E-cigarettes enable you to simulate the act of smoking by placing the device between your lips and inhaling the flavored vapor. Depending on the dosage you selected, you may get a high or low dose of nicotine.
Because nicotine may induce the brain to become addicted to other substances, teens are barred from vaping in several cities across the U.S. Some solutions still contain acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, both of which are known to be harmful or carcinogenic.
- The refillable cartridges can develop a toxic buildup of nicotine
- People can fill the cartridges with more-dangerous drugs, hiding their use of an illegal substance
- E-cigarettes aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The solutions aren’t regulated, which means manufacturers don’t have to comply with any regulations that would otherwise ensure their safety.
Occupy Your Hands *
Keep your hands busy so that when you experience cravings, you can’t light up a cigarette. Pursue one of your favorite crafting activities, such as woodwork, beading, crochet, needlepoint or knitting.
If you have access to the Internet, sign up for a free blog and begin to write articles about your efforts to successfully quit smoking. As you do so, make sure you don’t put temptation within arm’s reach. Get rid of every pack of cigarettes you still have in the house and get rid of the lighters and matches. Instead, place a bowl of cut-up vegetables or fruits next to your computer and munch on these as you write. This alternative to smoking may help others struggling with their addiction. In addition, if you choose to put ads on your blog, you may even make a little money.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies *
Another one of your smoking alternatives may include one of several nicotine replacement therapies. These include:
- Skin patches
- Nicotine gum
- Nasal spray (by prescription only)
- Inhalers (also be prescription only)
- Nicotine lozenges
All of these smoking alternatives contain pure nicotine, which, if they get into your child’s hands, can poison them. Keep every one of these methods out of their hands so you won’t run the risk of rushing them to the hospital for emergency treatment.
If you have tried to quit before, or if you are having a tough time staying away from cigarettes, each of these alternatives to smoking cigarettes can help you through a rough time. They deliver nicotine to your bloodstream in low doses, which may be just the edge you need to combat the withdrawal syndrome and cravings.
Who is the most optimal person for NRT? the person who smokes more than 15 cigarettes daily—NRT hasn’t been shown to aid people who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes in one day.
Will you be successful in quitting with NRT? As long as you don’t cheat and smoke a cigarette on the first day you use a nicotine replacement method, you are 10 times more likely to be successful. Conversely, the more cigarettes you used to smoke in one day, the higher your dosage should be.
Don’t smoke a cigarette while using any NRT method. Doing so exposes you to toxic levels of nicotine. One related advantage of using NRT: You won’t gain weight. When you have stopped using NRT, you may gain a few pounds. As you progress through NRT, your doctor should slowly decrease the dosage of nicotine you receive. If you participate in a smoking cessation counseling program, you’re even more likely to succeed in quitting.
If you have high LDL (bad cholesterol), this won’t go down until you stop using nicotine patches. If you are pregnant, NRT may not be safe for your unborn child.
Side effects can include:
- Sleeplessness for the first few days
- Nausea or other digestive issues
Emotional Support *
Nothing beats consistent emotional support when you’re trying to quit smoking. Before you quit, line up several supportive friends and relatives you’ll be able to call on when you’re having a tough time with cravings. If you don’t have anyone you can rely on in your circle, call a telephone counselor when you’re struggling with the temptation to light up. You’ll be able to find a program in your state. Every state and the District of Columbia have such a program. If you are amenable to 12-step treatment, a Nicotine Anonymous group can help you.
Hookah smoking is popular among younger smokers. Like e-cigarettes, hookah delivers the nicotine through steam—not vapor. While some consider hookah to be safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, the safety of this method isn’t well-known.
In addition, because it’s a tradition to smoke hookah in groups, it’s easy to spread communicable diseases. The same mouthpiece is passed from smoker to smoker. Smokers can inhale, not only the toxins in the tobacco, but from the charcoal used to heat the tobacco. These include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and heavy metals.
If hookah smokers don’t care for the traditional taste of cigarette smoke, they can use flavored tobacco. These flavors range from watermelon, apple, mint, licorice, cappuccino, coconut, cherry and even chocolate.
Veggie Sticks *
People who are trying to quit smoking have been known to buy bags of fresh produce and chop them up daily so they have healthier smoking alternatives sitting in their refrigerators or lunch bags at work. Some of these can include:
- Sliced carrots or celery sticks
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Apple slices
- Orange sections
The advantage to this alternative is that you’re taking in healthy nutrients rather than cigarette smoke and all its toxins. Vitamin C, beta carotene and other vitamins and minerals help you return to your previous good health. Look at the shape of those carrot or celery sticks. They look just like cigarettes. As you hold them, do so just like you used to hold cigarettes. The tactile experience may ease you through cravings.
If you don’t care for fresh veggies, load up on sunflower seeds (unsalted), pecans, almonds, cashew nuts or walnuts. Sugarless gum can also help you through craving attacks. The act of chewing gum is an oral activity which may help you to resist lighting up a cigarette.
Get Exercise *
When you first begin to lift weights, jog, walk or dance zumba, you won’t be able to do very much, but it’s a start. It also helps you to keep your mind off cigarettes and any cravings you may be feeling
If you can’t do 30 minutes of exercise at first, begin with 10 minutes. Walk before you begin to jog so you can strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Because former smokers run the risk of gaining weight as they regain the ability to taste food again, regular exercise can help them keep those extra pounds off. If the thought of going to the park or gym to exercise three or five days a week is too daunting, ask a friend or relative to go with you. You’ll benefit from the companionship. If this person knows you’re trying to quit smoking, they may be more willing to join you in the park or even sign up for a gym membership. The moral support you get as you strive for five more minutes on the treadmill will also help you through any cravings you may be feeling.