The title above may seem like an oxymoron for many smokers and non-smokers. It’s like implying that Elon Musk is struggling financially or that dogs are not men’s best friends. Still, due to the fact that cigarettes are highly addictive and bad for your health, scientists and doctors have been looking into healthier alternatives for years.
With new and intriguing alternatives to cigarettes available on the market, it’s important to note which are viable alternatives and can cause more harm than cigarettes. Figuring out which ones are safe isn’t easy, especially when you see e-smokers allowed to smoke indoors, as, for years, these have been promoted as safe alternatives to smoking. They are not, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Whether you want to quit smoking, are simply concerned about your health and want to use alternatives, or are trying to use alternatives that won’t leave you struggling with the stale-cigarette smell, we’ll look into these alternatives and break things down for you. Some alternatives to smoking are less harmful, while others cause more concern, so let’s look into them and figure this out together.
Are Cigarette Alternatives Safe and Effective?
Going over the following alternatives, it would become clearer that the advertising for many of these products was false, and all the reassurances that they were safe were lies. Still, when the following products were developed, scientists didn’t have enough data to say one way or another. By the time the data came in, there was another generation who had fallen into the trap of the big tobacco companies. Because of this, countries like the UK are debating whether or not to make it illegal for people aged 18 to buy cigarettes and then increase the age annually so that no new generation can access this unhealthy habit.
The Controversy of E-Cigarettes
For years after they were launched, e-cigarettes were promoted as THE healthy alternative to smoking. You probably remember promoters going into bars and clubs to spread awareness of this “incredible” new nicotine product that was harmless as it didn’t produce any smoke due to the lack of combustion or fire. Since 2004 these e-cigarettes have been marketed as safe alternatives as they release a vapor that mimics the act of smoking, without the tobacco element. Many were made to look like cigarettes or “pens” and smokers could enjoy the physical and psychological stimulus of smoking, allegedly, without the side effects.
Still, as their popularity increased, so did the research on this cigarette alternative. It was found that e-cigarette consumption or “vaping” also results in free radicals deposits in the body, like tobacco smoking. Furthermore, the chemical mixture in the e-liquid can affect the respiratory and immune systems. More prolonged studies are necessary to show the true effects e-cigarettes have on the body after long-term use, but simply the fact that you inhale vapors, that’s another state of water, and water should not be in the lungs is plenty of reason to stay away from them.
The American Heart Association presented their “largest study to date examining e-cigarettes and stroke” at the 2019 International Stroke Conference. Their report stated that out of 400,000 respondents, 67,000 had used e-cigarettes at some point. The e-smokers were younger, had a lower rate of diabetes and a lower body mass index, but despite this, they had a 72% higher risk of stroke than non-e-cigarette users. Furthermore, e-cigarette users doubled the rate of smoking simple cigarettes.
How about Cigars and Shisha
You simply can not say that cigars are safer than cigarettes. Quite the opposite, as while a cigarette usually contains 8.4 milligrams of nicotine, cigars go anywhere between 20 to 50 times that amount. Cigars also contain cadmium and ammonia, other toxic and cancer-causing compounds. In other words, smoking five cigars per day exposes you to the same risk as smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes per day.
Shisha is also promoted as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, but just like e-cigarettes, shisha isn’t safer than normal tobacco cigarettes. Smoking shisha requires a glass container with a water chamber through which the tobacco smoke is “filtered”. Still, that so-called filtration doesn’t eliminate any toxic chemicals present in tobacco smoke, and even if you inhale it through a long pipe and not a short tube, like e-cigarettes, the smoke still goes to your lungs. Furthermore, shisha smokers end up inhaling more smoke in one sitting than cigarette smokers, making them even more exposed to the side effects of smoking.
There are many plants out there that can be smoked, but while many have a hallucinogenic effect, like cannabis, we won’t focus on those. Many herbal cigarettes came into the market with the claims that the lack of tobacco made them safer, but not all of them are without tobacco. The most common alternatives are clove, bidis, and herbal cigarettes, but they aren’t healthy alternatives. In fact, they can actually be worse than normal cigarettes.
While these alternatives claim that they are healthier, this claim is based on the lack of nicotine and the removal of certain additives from normal cigarettes. However, nicotine and additives aren’t the biggest concerns when it comes to cigarettes. The bigger health risks are linked to the tar and carbon monoxide that comes from the act of lighting up a cigarette, regardless of the plant inside of it. Tar and carbon monoxide are present in any smoking alternative that you need to burn in order to consume. The cause of cancer and other respiratory diseases isn’t nicotine, but tar and carbon monoxide, so claiming that the lack of nicotine makes them safe is misleading. They might be less addictive without nicotine but aren’t safe or healthy.
Cigarette Alternatives to Kick the Habit
Seeing as the tobacco industry earned around $4.82 billion in 2020, it’s unlikely to give up on those revenues anytime soon. However, as more studies are being conducted and restrictions imposed on smoking areas and laws around the world, they are struggling to find viable and non-toxic alternatives to smoking without giving up on their revenue. While that may seem counterproductive on their part, British American Tobacco is investing heavily in safe alternatives while also being the producer of Kent, Lucky Strike, and Dunhill cigarettes. Their new product is Voke, a nicotine inhaler that comes without the tar and carbon dioxide ingredients that make cigarettes toxic.
These alternatives have no heating or combustion element involved and work similarly to e-cigarettes but have a different result. As it is an inhaler, it liberates small bursts of nicotine in a similar act to smoking through a small breath-activated aerosol device. Like this, smokers’ psychological and physiological desires are satisfied, along with the addictive nicotine. Furthermore, in the UK, Voke was licensed as a medicine that can help smokers quit a bad habit, increasing its credibility and public support. Other cigarette alternatives also work but don’t mimic the act of smoking to satisfy the other needs of smokers.
Nicotine Chewing Gum
One of the best alternatives o slowly decrease the amount of nicotine absorbed by the body and steadily move away from the addictive substance are nicotine chewing gums. These alternatives contain nicotine but no tar or carbon dioxide (you don’t burn them, you chew them) that is absorbed through mouth tissues and released into the bloodstream. As the nicotine craving hits, instead of lighting a cigarette, you start chewing on the nicotine gum to satisfy the craving. They come in a variety of flavors, but one should be careful not to overdose on nicotine, as it is easy to end up with too much nicotine in your system by chewing on nicotine gum.
One of the worst side-effects of any addictive substance is the withdrawal symptoms. Bupropion and Varenicline are prescription medications that can be used to fight off these symptoms, which can be quite harsh for nicotine dependency, as they inhibit nicotine receptors in the brain. The effect is that you’ll enjoy smoking less as the act won’t have the effects it did prior to taking the medication.
If you’re considering quitting through the use of these medications, make sure you consult a doctor before. Aside from the fact that you need a prescription to get access to these medications, they are not suitable for everyone. Furthermore, they are highly restrictive, and you’re only allowed to take so much during a year, and you might also need help from your physician to stop taking them.
Laser therapy will be easier to understand if you know how acupuncture works. The way it works is by exposing you to low-intensity cold or light lasers that stimulate certain areas of the body to release endorphins. This stimulation imitates the relaxing sensation of nicotine consumption in the brain. Still, studies aren’t broad on the subject, and research on the actual effectiveness of this therapy is limited.
Nicotine addiction is one of the most common types of addiction and one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. The reason for this is the overall acceptance of smoking, even if there is a growing stigma for smokers, cigarettes were not made illegal even when other addictive drugs were. Due to the impact cigarette smoke has on physical health, nicotine addiction is dangerous, but unfortunately, many smokers have a harder time giving it up. Various factors impact the predisposition to addiction; some are out of the hands of the smoker to fight or decide against. Still, while addiction is a disease, there are ways to deal with it, even if it might be a life-long struggle.
In the comments section below, let us know your thoughts on these so-called cigarette alternatives. Did you ever try them? Are you for or against them? Like & Share this article with friends and family, especially if you know someone who is struggling with nicotine addiction. Giving them access to this information might help them on their path to kicking the habit.