Keeping one eye on what's going on with stop cessation aids is inevitable for most smokers; especially with all of the negativity they have to put up with in carrying on their habit. Friends, relatives, doctors and posters, all sometimes seem to be shouting at you to quit your smoking, and telling you what the best aid to stop smoking is. You know that they are right to be concerned, as tobacco smoke, with its 1001 cancer causing chemicals, repugnant staining tar and wallet swallowing properties isn't doing you any good. So what can claim to be the best stop smoking aid around?
Nicotine replacement therapies have been in vogue for a long time, often claiming that they are the best stop smoking aid. They all work on the basis that a smoker first quits their smoking – but that they will then have to combat the physical, chemical and psychological dependencies of nicotine. In order to help with this, the smoker uses one (or more!) of these stop smoking aids to relieve the cravings for nicotine.
The first types licensed, though probably not the best stop smoking aid, were the nicotine patches and gums. And plenty of studies show that they do indeed reduce cravings, and help quitting rates considerably. But relapse rates are high, with up to 90% of users going back to smoking within six months.
More recently nicotine inhalers and sprays have made claims to be the best stop smoking aid. And they certainly are a bit faster than gums and patches at hitting the nicotine craving on its head. But rates of relapse are pretty similar with these as well.
What many of these nicotine replacement approaches forget is that smoking is a complex addiction. Yes, nicotine has a pharmacological effect, but there are other things that make cigarette smoking a pleasure, and difficult to stop. Like the enhanced sociability from having a cigarette to share, to wave and gesture with; things like the physical presence in the smokers hand, the smell, scent and taste of tobacco and smoke; things like the positive association of the nicotine effect with particular things like drinking, eating or nerves.
All of these things have to be given up first, by a smoker switching to one of the nicotine replacement therapies. To do this is a bit of a tall order, especially when there's no substitute for them. Or is there?
The new kid on the block, although not competing for the best stop smoking aid, is the electronic cigarette. This device is fast becoming one of the most talked about smoking alternatives of recent times, with the electronic cigarette there is no setting fire to tobacco, and therefore no smoke. What you exhale when using the electronic cigarette is water vapour that you vaporise; an inert liquid with diluted nicotine dissolved in; which you then inhale. This way you bypass all of the known bad problems with smoke and its cancer causing payload.
With E cigarettes, there is no tar, tobacco, ammonia, pesticide, (to name a few nasty substances in traditional cigarettes) they look like a cigarette, taste like a cigarette and even smoke like a cigarette. However, as explained above, what is omitted is an odourless water vapour, not smoke. Other major benefits are that they are actually a lot cheaper than normal fags, you have your social prop back, you can legally smoke them in public places, and use thee-cigarette to remonstrate, demonstrate and gesticulate, as you always have done. And don't forget, they still give you that all important nicotine hit.
So if you are looking to find the best stop smoking aid, good luck. But if would rather get the best of both worlds, by stopping smoking cigarettes, and starting vaping e-cigarettes, then there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.