Without question, your mind plays the biggest part in any change—all actions begin with a thought.
First you think of quitting, then you look for the best way to do it.
And the best way to quit smoking would be to just stop!
And at least 8% of smokers can quit cold turkey first time.
But over 90% of smokers, need a helping hand and go looking for options on all the ways to stop smoking.
Naturally you want the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way... like pop-a-pill, or put-me-to-sleep-and-I'll-wake-up-a-non-smoker!
Ain't possible, but don't get scared off. Odds are looking good for some serious shortcuts.
The wonderful thing about people is that we are all different. People looking for ways to stop smoking are all different too—surprise.
Some smokers quit easily and others slog through the process, and some things work better for others.
So the best way to quit smoking has to be first of all comprehensive. That is, it must cover the habitual, mental, emotional, behavioral, physical, chemical... still awake?
So here is what's on offer, and with all these quit smoking methods listed, we truly hope you find the best way to quit smoking for you.
What: Audio course, with step-by-step guide for all you need, from the physical withdrawal of nicotine to the psychological aspects of quitting. Plus 3 bonus follow-ups.
Time: Approximately 1-2 hours per day over 7 days.
Availability: Global. Instant download, or 16 days for mailed CD set.
Guarantee: Yes, 100%
Side effects: None
Comments: Unashamedly biased, putting the best way to quit smoking first! Click here to read all about the Quit for Good Stop Smoking Program
What: A drug Nicotine. Lots of major brand names, such as Nicorette and Nicabate produced by drug companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Pharmacia AB, and many smaller brands such as Nicotrol, QuitX, etc.Offers a long weaning-off process over many months in the hope of slowly reducing physical dependence on nicotine. Some offer a helpline to call, website to visit and/or have a small advice booklet.
Time: 20-24 weeks.
Availability: Usually sold from pharmacies or doctors prescription. Many generic forms now sold online.
Available as patches, gums, inhalers, nasal sprays, lozenges and tablets.
Side effects: Common, but tolerable in most people, and bad enough to serious in some to make them discontinue further. Mostly jitters, irritability, nervousness, insomnia and panic attacks.
Skin rashes and welts with patches.
Can be dangerous if patients have heart, blood pressure or liver problems.
Habit forming with the gum, sometimes for years (supposedly tastes like battery acid!). This long term use also increases the risk of carcinogenic nicotine-derived nitrosamines to be formed in the body.
Possible overdosing of nicotine, (a toxic poison) by doubling up with smoking at the same time.
Can be a danger if found by children.
Gum, lozenges and tablets contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharin, known to cause neurological and other health problems.
Comments: Marketed to the public over 30 years ago as a new way to quit smoking. Massive advertising and a foothold into doctors' rooms and pharmacists, meant that it soon became well known, with various new user options added.
Originally little reliable independent data or studies available, but now starting to emerge. Makers claim that a smoker has twice as much chance at quitting, as compared to cold turkey. (Cold turkey figures show approximately 2-8% success rate.)
There are a few new controlled medical studies recently that show nicotine replacement combined with therapy followed up for a year or more, should give slightly better results.
An early Science Direct report on a study of weight concerned women, using two types of gum—nicotine and PPA and behavioral therapy over 13 weeks with 6 and 12 month follow-ups.
Results show both gums had no effect on cessation rates and weight change, but the behavioral component of the intervention was effective in increasing the odds of quitting smoking.
So for the smokers who try these highly overpriced drugs as a way to quit smoking, between 84%100% of them will get zero results and a disappointing waste of time, energy and $$$.
Chemical name is Bupropion hydrochloride, and marketed as Wellbutrin for depression, and Zyban for stop smoking. Discovered by chance when some depressed patients were prescribed it then subsequently lost their desire to smoke.
What: Anti-depressant drug, manufactured by drug giant, GlaxoSmithKline. It is designed to act on the brain's neuro pathways triggering a supply of 'mood changing' chemicals... similar to smoking in some people. For a more detailed explanation, read our Nicotine Withdrawal article.
Time: Minimum 7-12 weeks, longer with some patients.
Availability: In most countries it is only available by doctor's prescription.(Heavily subsidized by taxpayers in some countries). Can now buy generic supply online.
Side effects: Many troubling side effects, with the major one being the tendency for seizures. (Approx 1 out of every 1,000 people have a seizure, which may involve convulsions and loss of consciousness.) As many as 3 in 1,000 people have an allergic reaction—severe enough to require medical attention.
More symptoms include mild to severe foggy thinking, headaches, nausea, insomnia (often serious), shakes, uncomfortable dry mouth, weight gain, sugar and carb cravings, rashes, sweating, constipation, personality disorders, suicidal tendencies (many 1000s formally reported) and some deaths. (Hard to get worldwide reliable reported figures, but in UK alone when first introduced around 1992 there were a recorded 18 deaths.)
People report an inability to cope with a normal work day, and anything requiring study or taking exams is totally out of the question.
Many contraindications including alcohol, heart medications, caffeine, most other drugs and medicines, and pregnancy. Also any history of mental disorders, eating disorders, diabetes, allergies, or previous head and organ injury or disease. Overdosing possible and dangerous if found by children.
Comments: In clinical trials, the success rate is listed as approximately 36% on the highest dose of 300mg per day, and 19% after 26 weeks. Unfortunately many smokers relapse, because their psychological desires, social pressures, stress, and beliefs have not been dealt with.
And for those smokers who got a free subsidised handout, it is human nature not to place value on this, and easier to accept a smoke when offered one, rather than make any effort themselves to quit.
A Family Practice eye-opening report of this drug (Bupropion), showed how in a double blind placebo controlled study, after 2 years both groups—one on the drug and one not, came out the same at 40% success. Because both groups received counseling throughout, it was proved this attention and follow-up helped them, rather than the drug.
What: Public attended courses or in-house company courses, often run by qualified instructors or former smokers, eg: SmokeEnders. Allen Carr's Clinic. Can encompass various techniques, meditation, stress management and nicotine help.
Time: Depending on the course, they can range from consecutive days over a week or so, or can be one day a week up to 8 weeks, with sometimes follow-ups after 3 months.
Availability: Most big cities have courses available.
Guarantee: No, but some offer a repeat free or for a small fee within a certain time frame if not successful first time, such as SmokeEnders—$90 within 6 months.
Side effects: None. Certainly no chemical dangers. Occasionally boredom and stress if not managed carefully.
Comments: Difficult to get un-biased, independent results, and there's a big variation, but out of all the ways to stop smoking, there is a generally proven much higher success rate with stop smoking courses.
Some smokers like to be told what to do, the date they will stop, and they enjoy the course instructor's and group's support. But others dislike the discipline, or scare tactics of death and disease, or the lectures of how to run their life, particularly if it is organized by a hospital or religious group.
Many claims are made of success rates, but a 90% success rate for example means nothing, if only a few finish the course and 90% of those stop smoking. Dropout rates are high if the course goes on too long, or some people find it difficult to fit in with the session times, or don't make the effort to turn up, say on a cold night.
From big drug co Pfizer in Connecticut, is now approved by the FDA and being pushed on to the market. Called Chantix in US and Champix in Europe, this now joins Zyban as one of few non-nicotine drugs prescribed as stop smoking aids.
What: The Chantix/Champix drug blocks nicotine from entering relevant parts of the brain, thus eliminating or slowing down dopamine production, which is the reward chemical normally triggered by nicotine.
Time: Chantix tablets are taken twice daily for 12-24 weeks or longer, and Pfizer claim a 22% success rate up to one year.
Availability: Most countries, by doctor's prescription.
Side effects: Their website states 'frequent' side effects include: nausea, headache, vomiting, flatulence, insomnia, nightmares, dysgeusia (food tastes vile), diarrhea, gingivitis, chest & back pain, dizziness, anxiety, depression, emotional disorder, polyuria (excessive urination), menstrual disorder and hypertension.
To top it off, about 1 in 1,000 patients get to go on an "euphoric trip," like losing their mind!
Comments: Despite Pfizer trumpeting their 'wonder pill' in their press releases, the figures they claim are obtained from firstly eliminating any smokers from their trials who had previously failed trying to quit, and then all smokers were also given counseling sessions and in some cases nicotine patches.
A Pfizer smoking cessation expert said longer-term results are not proven, but given the difficulty of quitting the habit for good, they acknowledge it may take smokers 10 attempts.
That seems like a long time to ingest drugs into your system in the hope of it doing something for you.
Although it has been around in Europe for 30 years, is now in US. Freedom Laser Therapy has opened rooms in California and Michigan, US with more planned.
What: Using the same principals as Acupuncture and Acupressure, laser also known as laser acupuncture, is just a high tech way to replace hands or needles.
It aims a low-power laser beam at various points of the body with a combination of a low level helium neon laser and electrobiostimulation. This is intended to balance the body's energy flows between meridians.
Working on the hands, face and ears, the idea is to help promote the release of endorphins, the natural chemicals in the body that decrease stress and increase energy, for help with nicotine withdrawals.
Time: One 30 minute session, with a follow-up.
Availability: Mostly in US, but reports are now out of other laser treatments worldwide.
Side effects: There are concerns about this therapy due to its unproven results and aggressive advertising, but so far it has not been possible to obtain access to clients results.
Comments: Promoted to help nicotine withdrawal symptom, the sessions include watching an educational addiction video, health supplements and support manual with instructions to "never take another puff."
Recently the watchdog US group—Public Citizen Organization, has challenged Freedom Laser Therapy Inc., the Anne Penman Laser Therapy clinics, New Beginnings Laser Therapy, Laser Concept and the Stop Smoking Laser Center, to produce some scientific evidence or clinical results to support their use of laser therapy for smoking cessation, or else to stop their illegal claims.
The FDA has said it will investigate clearance for laser therapy, It is only approved by the FDA for marketing for the temporary relief of pain. For all other uses, the therapy may be used only for investigational clinical trials or studies. See Food and Drug Administration laser facts.
What: Many hospitals and medical centers, in most cities of the world, have a stop smoking and drug clinic. Can be group sessions or one-on-one. The usual method is combined nicotine replacement with additional help. Blood levels of nicotine are taken before and during treatment.
Time: Similar to group course above, but often going on for many months, and even yearly follow-ups.
Availability: Similar to group course above. Usually taxpayer subsidized, or private medical owner/religious order.
Guarantee: Follow-ups or repeat sessions are offered.
Side effects: As with group courses above, and for nicotine replacement.
Comments: In a medical establishment, they tend towards trying a more passive way to quit smoking, in fact to deal with all drug problems. No reliable data on results available.
There can be a higher relapse rate, due to the fact that rather than coming from themselves, smokers are being told what to do, are medically monitored, and are using more of the drug.
Some directors who run these clinics can be well-meaning and caring, but some are over zealous with an ANTI-smoking attitude and/or lifestyle change attitude.
What: Patients are put into a relaxed state—hypnotized, then suggestions are put to them to change their beliefs.
Time: Usually a minimum of 2 sessions at least.
Availability: For personal visits, if your town has more than a dozen buildings, you are sure to find a hypnotherapist practicing there. (For cd's etc read on).
Guarantee: No, but follow-ups or repeat sessions are often offered.
Side effects: None.
Comments: An ancient remedy offered for many addictions, emotional and mental problems. Hypnotherapy's outcome depends a lot on the hypnotherapist and whether the patient is receptive. Often results wear off over time and need 'topping up.'
Independent clinical tests are divided in the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, but general negative. But anecdotal evidence certainly suggests that it can be very helpful.
What: Accupuncture involves fine needles inserted into selected energy points in the body. With Accupressure the hands are used to give pressure. These techniques are based on the belief that the flow of the body's energy or qi, is not in balance, and the pathways need strengthening or blockages removed.
Time: Approximately 6 sessions.
Availability: Most towns and cities have clinics.
Guarantee: No, but follow-ups or repeat sessions are offered.
Side effects: None, except occaisonally contamination or skin irritation. Usually tingly feelings, but sometimes mild pain.
Comments: No reliable data available. Some quitters swear by it, but independent tests have not shown any additional benefit. As with hypnotherapy this is an ancient method offered for helping various ailments.
What: Most books are written by ex-smokers describing how they quit. Many books are heavily marketed, with worldwide franchise or affiliate systems.
Time: Whatever time it takes to read and put into practice.
Availability: Bookshops and online.
Guarantee: No from bookshops, but online sometimes, however this is rarely taken up as most people think they will get around to reading it again.
Side effects: None.
Comments: Many millions of books have been sold and millions of people have quit and many more have ended up disappointed. Research show there are a ton of books bought by hopeful quitters, that sit on shelves and never got read beyond the first few pages, or have been read and no action taken by the reader.
Reading a book should be one of the best ways to stop smoking, but the plain facts are that it's hard to motivate oneself to follow a book and it's all too easy to lose the impetus and maintain that initial first enthusiasm. Most people report getting bored reading, and feel unsupported.
No matter how good the material in a book is, and there are some excellent ones, it is difficult to get the impact desired—most smokers need more than a book.
What: Either used as drops, pills, sprays, teas, patches or herbal cigarettes.
Time: Depends on regime, but usually 4 week to 3 months or more.
Availability: Mostly online, sometimes health shops or pharmacies. Original brand names sell for a lot. Pirates now offer 75% less in some cases. There's a battle out there with warnings on websites etc. Basically anybody can make up preparations. These can't be patented as the ingredients are freely available, so there's lots of poaching and copying.
Guarantee: Mostly, but nearly always stipulate a postage and packing charged if returned. Some even charge a handling return fee.
Side effects: The natural herbs and supplements are ok, and are not strong enough to cause too much trouble in the short term should someone be averse to them. Unfortunately it's the added chemicals you should avoid.
Most commercial quit smoking herbal preparations include vitamin and mineral supplements, with the idea to help a smoker's immune system get healthy again, but unfortunately these are artificial chemical supplements, and in particular they have added artificial sweetening substitutes such as the dangerous aspartame and saccharine.
Then there are the preservatives, flavorings, anti-freeze chemicals etc. Here's some from a stop smoking herbal preparation label, that you wouldn't want to give to your cat ... sodium lauryl sulfate, colloidal silicon dioxide, pharmaceutical glaze.
Of course if you smoke herbal cigarettes, although there's no tobacco poisons, there's smoke—and smoke is smoke—it's always carcinogenic.
Comments: Most herbs have an effect, albeit mild, either relieving symptoms or helping with stress. In some cases, herbs, for example in the patches, are meant to act as natural substitutes for nicotine and therefore satisfy the body's craving for this substance.
There are far cheaper, simpler, and more effective instructions for do-it-yourself herbal help, aromatherapy and essential oils, plus the recommended uses and sources for natural vitamin and mineral supplements.
Some are helpful... such as beautiful sound therapy systems, emotional and stress busters, nifty little reminder cards—you name it, there are many meaningful ideas, and dozens of quirky ways that can cheer you on your way in your search for the best way to quit smoking.
Or the disappointments! Some of the collection researched here includes: inaudible CDs or files; grainy videos; strange gimmicks and contraptions, tediously boring classes, books or material (sometimes badly photocopied sheets) telling you why you should quit smoking but not how; downloadable methods of badly compiled plagiarized material; questionable concoctions, and so on.
Here are some of the best and some of the doubtful ways to quit smoking—(in no particular order).
Artificial cigarettes. Used to give hand to mouth satisfaction.
Internet courses. To follow with interactive games, affirmations and instructions.
Self-hypnosis and meditation. Audio files, tapes, cds and MP3s.
Nicotine blockers. Drops put onto the filter end of cigarettes, medicines or lozenges.
Clay baths. Natural clay, has been used in medicine since the Middle Ages. Used as mud baths, mud wraps and other internal and external ways, it eases pains, stimulates circulation, absorbs toxins and cleanses the skin.
Chat rooms, blogs, readers' forums. These are most often found on sites belonging to government organizations, cancer or lung councils, anti-tobacco sites, or just general health sites or people wanting to make available a site for support and advice to others wishing to quit.
Advice from ex-smokers. Many sites outlining what helped them, eg:
Instructions on how to cut down by one cigarette per day, or
An outline of positive saying to repeat, or
Various things to do to your cigarettes etc.
Scheduled Reduction systems. These are mostly electronic beeping devices. They track and record a person's smoking pattern, then show a personally tailored computerised plan for smoking—reducing slowly and lengthening the delay for each smoke over approximately 2 months.
A smoker is meant to only smoke when the device beeps, with the idea being to break the normal automatic lighting up of a cigarette. The latest on the market is called "Smoke Signals. Full version costs US$149 and also includes email help.
Individual professional counselors.
Bioresonance. Originally from Europe, this therapy, despite recent press releases, is not new as it was touted as a cure for cancer over 35 years ago. It is described as electronically patterning the body's energy frequencies and changing them to new patterns.
Not cheap and considered a way-out new age treatment, so no independent testing done and no proven results published. See Quack watch.
Quit smoking help lines. Usually government run.
Nicotine Testing. NicAlert(TM) from Nymox, uses testing strips to measure the level of Cotinine, which is a metabolite of nicotine in urine. Cotinine is commonly used in medical research, smoking cessation programs, quit-smoking contests and cancer clinics, to determine the extent of tobacco product use or exposure. Has been shown to be useful when used in conjunction with other methods.
Smoke Testing. TobacAlert(TM), also from Nymox is for non-medical uses and can detect second-hand smoke exposure.
Most of these resources are excellent, and some you wouldn't give the time of day to. Mostly available online; sometimes by direct mail or sold at markets. Harmless side effects in most cases.
Guarantees often offered, but because of low prices or difficult contact, people tend to not be bothered requesting their money back.
Hope all that is some help to you... whatever floats your boat is out there!
To quote Confucius, "Deep doubts, deep wisdom;
small doubts, little wisdom."
But have a think on this; compared to the expense of cigarettes and treatment of associated illnesses, chosen wisely, the actual cost of buying a product or service as a way to quit, is MINIMAL.
It is a fact that many smokers can't or won't pay too much up front. They don't have that spare money, but they have enough for their few packets of cigarettes or baccy... so US$25 or $60 a week for say, patches or inhalers, is feasible and doesn't seem so bad at the time.
But if smokers in their search for the best way to quit usually go through 5-7 unsuccessful attempts with many of these methods, including cold turkey (Centers for Disease Control figures), then there's a whole lotta money causing a whole lotta disappointments.
If you are looking for the best way to quit smoking, do yourself a favor, look at the long term insurance, and guarantee your future health and wealth by checking this list, adding up the figures and choosing the best option to quit smoking that's right for you now, and the rest of your life.
for the latest and greatest... time will tell.
Dream it. Dare it.