It is very important to enlighten and teach the community about the dangers of smoking and the effects it tends to have as you grow older. No one should smoke cigarettes, and every effort should be made to get people to quit all forms of tobacco and to prevent everyone – especially youth – from starting to use any tobacco product.
People who smoke are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods, such as prescription medications and counselling, to quit smoking. You may hear or read about other tools or methods to quit smoking besides nicotine replacement therapy or prescription drugs and whether they can help people quit smoking.
There is no one right way to quit.
Cold turkey and gradual withdrawal
A lot of people who smoke quit cold turkey – they stop completely, all at once, with no medicines or nicotine replacement. You may hear that more people quit cold turkey than by using assistance. That is true, but it reflects the fact that so many more people use the cold turkey method. In fact, the chances of a successful quit attempt are much higher when someone uses assistance.
Another way is gradual withdrawal – cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke a little bit each day. This way, you slowly reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. You might cut out cigarettes smoked with a cup of coffee, or you might decide to smoke only at certain times of the day. It makes sense to cut down before your quit date in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms, but this can be hard to do. It’s important to know that merely cutting back (and not quitting) has only minimal health benefits.
Filters that reduce tar and nicotine in cigarettes do not help people quit smoking, nor do they reduce the health risks from smoking.
Other methods have been used to help stop smoking, such as over-the-counter products that change the taste of tobacco, stop-smoking diets that curb nicotine cravings, and combinations of vitamins. At this time there’s no scientific evidence that any of these work.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)
E-cigarettes and similar devices are not approved by the FDA for use as smoking cessation aids. This is because there’s just not enough research or evidence yet.
Still, some people who smoke choose to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking. Stopping smoking clearly has well-documented health benefits. But people who switch from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes still expose themselves to potentially serious ongoing health risks. It’s important to stop using all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, as soon as possible both to reduce health risks and to avoid staying addicted to nicotine.
Some people choose to use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes at the same time on an ongoing basis, whether they are trying to quit or not. This is known as “dual use.” The dual use of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes can lead to significant health risks because smoking any amount of regular cigarettes is very harmful. People should not use both products at the same time and are strongly encouraged to completely stop using all tobacco products.