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How to quit smoking: methods that really work (and why the ones you think work don't!)

By James Dunworth

“Right, I’ll bet you one hundred pounds that you’ll start smoking before me,” my friend said to me.

We were both at university and were discussing ways to quit. This rather bizarre method seemed ideal - the financial motivation would work with cash-strapped students like us.

Unfortunately, the method didn’t work - when we were both desperate for a fag we decided the bet was off.

I am not the only one to resort to desperate measure of quitting - one millionaire stranded himself on a desert island in a desperate attempt to quit!

But there are methods which, although not guaranteed, are proven to have a statistical advantage over other methods. And, chances are, they are not the ones you are thinking off!

Methods that don't work

Unfortunately, smoking cessation is a multi-billion dollar industry. And much of those billions are made marketing and selling solutions which don’t really work.

High quit rates are trumpeted from nicotine cessation aids. However, what is not always mentioned is that in initial trials counselling, found to increase cessation rates, was used in conjunction. In addition, quit rates in follow up studies focus on short term quit rates. Cessation rates when measured at one year have been found as low at 2%, and are generally found to be about half as effective as quitting cold turkey.

Methods that do work

One of the most effective methods of cessation is the Allen Carr method. Available as a course or in the form of a book, it boasts over 50% effectiveness. This was tested in a court of law. On the death of Allen Carr the director of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) claimed the effectiveness rating was a lie - but was forced to apologise to Allen Carr’s Easyway foundation and pay legal costs.  

Methods that work but are dangerous

Varenicline is a drug used in Chantix and Champix. While the drug has shown some success, it can also cause mental illnesses to worsen, recur or appear, and there are over 1000 cases pending from the victims of suicide victims who took the drug.

Alternatives for people who can’t or don’t want to quit

A disclaimer here - I work for a company which retails electronic cigarettes (and I think they are great!) But in the interests of objectivity I will describe both of the two main alternatives!

First, though, it needs to be said that alternatives should be used by smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit.

While nicotine is not as bad as nicotine plus hundreds of chemicals and dozens of carcingens, it is still an addictive substance and may be harmful.

However, both the alternatives described here do not involve combustion, which is what creates most of the damage.

Smokeless tobacco can be chewed or spat. The safest form of this is currently Snus, which according to some epidemiological studies does not increase any cause of death at all. Snus is popular among Swedish men, who now have the lowest lung cancer rate in the Europe, but is illegal in the rest of Europe, probably for political and/or financial reasons.

Electronic cigarettes, on the other hand, resemble tobacco cigarettes - but are made of metal and plastic! A liquid nicotine solution is heated up when the user inhales, vaporising the liquid which is then drawn into the user’s chest. Crucially, no combustion takes place - just vaporisation.

If you can't or don't want to stop smoking, consider one of these two alternatives to smoking!

About the Author

James Dunworth is the co-founder of E Cigarette Direct, which retails the HALO electronic cigarette, and the author of the Ashtray Blog.


The above guest post is published based on the premise that it will be helpful and informative. The opinions made within it are those of the author and not of The links you may find within this post do not necessarily imply our recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them.

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