Here we’ll talk you through the different ways of quitting smoking so that you can see if there’s a stand out approach that might help you.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can offer a simple solution to smoking addiction. It works by supplying you with nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes and tobacco) without the dangers of all the harmful stuff.
The forms of NRT that you can get are:
There is no evidence to suggest that one type of NRT is better than the others. Some people find it effective to combine therapies. For instance using a skin patch and chewing gum at the same time, might help you to quit. The patch offers a longer release of nicotine, whereas the gum can give a quick hit if you feel a craving coming on. You might have to try a few of these before you work out which one works best for you.
You can get NRTs from pharmacies, as well as many shops that sell healthcare products – such as supermarkets or large convenience stores. They’ll mostly be over-the-counter treatments, so you won’t need to worry about getting a prescription, but you will need to pay for them.
It is possible to get NRTs for free through the NHS in some cases, or just for the cost of a prescription. If you speak to your doctor or smoking cessation nurse, they might be able to let you know if you’re able to get free or cheaper NRTs.
Like all stop smoking treatments, NRTs have some good and bad points.
Vapes, or e-cigarettes, have become an increasingly popular alternative to smoking over the past decade. And research has shown them to be effective at helping people to stop smoking. They work by supplying the body with nicotine in a vapour. This mimics the act of smoking, whilst not giving you the harmful substances found in cigarettes and tobacco.
E-cigs work by heating liquid propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine. They can come in different flavours and types, so there can be options to suit your own tastes. But, because they’re still quite new, there isn’t a lot known about the long term effects that they could have on your health.
You can get vapes and e-cigarettes at specialist shops, websites, or certain pharmacies. Fortunately, because of their rise in popularity, they’re readily available to buy in a wide range of places, so you shouldn’t struggle too much to find one you like. You can often get the refillable liquid in a range of shops and supermarkets, too, in different flavours and nicotine levels.
You can’t get vapes or e-cigarettes on prescription through the NHS. This means that you’ll have to find and pay for them yourself.
You can also get tablets to help you quit smoking. The two most common are Champix and Zyban. These are only available on prescription, so if you’re looking to try stop smoking tablets, you’ll need to speak with a clinician.
Champix uses the active ingredient varenicline, which works in two ways:
Zyban is another option. It was originally made as a medication to treat depression, but it has been found to help people to quit smoking. It’s not entirely known how Zyban works, but it’s thought that it interferes with the part of the brain that’s responsible for addictive behaviour.
As they’re only available on prescription, you can’t get Zyban or Champix from normal shops or supermarkets – you’ll need to get a prescription after speaking with a clinician.
You can also get these medicines online. Our clinician can prescribe Zyban and Champix after they’ve decided that it’s safe, so if you talk to us about your health, you might be able to get these medicines delivered to you.
Put simply, this is where you give up smoking without replacing it with anything, such as the methods listed above.
When quitting smoking ‘cold-turkey’ some people find it useful to take up exercise in order to channel their energy into something positive, and to act as a distraction from their cravings. And research has suggested that it can help people with smoking withdrawals.
You can also take various counselling sessions to help you to cope with your smoking cravings, though this might not be convenient.
It’s unlikely that the methods listed above will help you to quit smoking unless you’re willing to put in the work. With that in mind, let’s look at the ways you can make sure that when you decide to quit, you succeed:
Making the decision to give up smoking is a big one, so in order to maximise your chances of success, the first step is making sure that you have the right help and treatment you need to quit smoking for good.
If you’re not sure of which ways of stopping smoking could be right for you, or you’re a little overwhelmed by the choice, we can point you in the right direction.
Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation: Differences Between Men and Women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(4), pp.712–722.
Perceived efficacy of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy among successful e-cigarette users: a qualitative approach. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 8(1).
Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, 5(2), pp.67–86.
Comparative Effectiveness of Smoking Cessation Medications: A National Prospective Cohort From Taiwan. PLOS ONE, 11(11), p.e0166992.
Exercise effects on withdrawal and mood among women attempting smoking cessation. Addictive Behaviors, 24(3), pp.399–410.
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