Other Ways to Quit Smoking
You may hear or read about other tools or methods to quit smoking besides nicotine replacement therapy or prescription drugs. While these may help some people, there’s no strong proof that they can improve the chances of quitting smoking.
Cold turkey and gradual withdrawal
There’s no one right way to quit. A lot of smokers quit cold turkey – they stop completely, all at once, with no medicines or nicotine replacement. Some may start by smoking fewer cigarettes for a few weeks before they quit.
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.
Filters that reduce tar and nicotine in cigarettes do not work. In fact, studies have shown that smokers who use filters tend to smoke more.
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) are not supposed to be sold to help quit smoking and are not regulated by the FDA. Still, many smokers view them as quit aids.
A few studies have found that e-cigarettes may help reduce the number of cigarettes smoked, but more research is needed to know whether they help people quit. The overall safety of e-cigarettes is also unknown and is being studied. Electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery devices (or ENDS) are a hot research topic.
Tobacco lozenges and pouches
The FDA has ruled that lozenges, strips, and sticks that contain tobacco and small pouches of tobacco that you hold in your mouth are types of oral tobacco products much like snuff and chew, and are not smoking cessation aids.
There’s no evidence that these products can help a person quit smoking. And we know that oral tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco cause cancer.
Other forms of nicotine not approved by the FDA
Nicotine has been added to drinks, lollipops, straws, and lip balms which are marketed as quit tools. None of these are approved by the FDA, and, in fact, some are illegal in the US. None have been shown to help people quit smoking. They also pose a risk for children and pets if they are not well-labeled, carefully stored, and disposed of safely.
Hypnosis methods vary a great deal, which makes it hard to study as a way to stop smoking. For the most part, reviews that looked at controlled studies of hypnosis to help people quit smoking have not found that it’s a quitting method that works. Still, some people say that it helps. If you’d like to try it, ask your health care provider to recommend a good licensed therapist who does hypnotherapy.
This method has been used to quit smoking, but there’s little evidence to show that it works. Acupuncture for smoking is usually done on certain parts of the ears.
Magnet therapy to quit smoking involves 2 small magnets that are put in a certain spot, opposite each other on either side of the ear. Magnetism holds them in place. There’s no scientific evidence to date to suggest that magnet therapy helps smokers stop. There are many on-line companies that sell these magnets, and they report various “success” rates. But there’s no clinical trial data to back up these claims.
Cold laser therapy
This is also called low level laser therapy, and is related to acupuncture. In this method, cold lasers are used instead of needles for acupuncture. Despite claims of success by some cold laser therapy providers, there’s no scientific evidence that shows this helps people stop smoking.
Herbs and supplements
There’s little scientific evidence to support the use of homeopathic aids and herbal supplements as stop-smoking methods. Because they are marketed as dietary supplements (not drugs), they don’t need FDA approval to be sold. This means that the manufacturers don’t have to prove they work, or even that they’re safe.
Be sure to look closely at the label of any product that claims it can help you stop smoking. No dietary supplement has been proven to help people quit smoking. Most of these supplements are combinations of herbs, but not nicotine. They have no proven track record of helping people to stop smoking.
Some studies have looked at cessation programs using yoga, mindfulness, and meditation to aid in quitting smoking. Results were not clearly in favor of these methods, but some did show lower craving and less smoking. More research is needed, and studies of these practices are still going on. Cognitive processing methods (cognitive-behavioral approaches) are also being studied.
Barnes J, Dong CY, McRobbie H, et al. Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(10):CD001008.
Carim-Todd L, Mitchell SH, Oken BS. Mind-body practices: an alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;132(3):399-410.
McRobbie H, Bullen C, Hartmann-Boyce J, Hajek P. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;12:CD010216.
Tseng TY, Ostroff JS, Campo A, et al. A randomized trial comparing the effect of nicotine versus placebo electronic cigarettes on smoking reduction among young adult smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 Jan 17.
White AR, Rampes H, Liu JP, Stead LF, Campbell J. Acupuncture and related interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jan 23;1:CD000009.
Last Medical Review: May 6, 2016 Last Revised: May 6, 2016