If you have been cut off from buying cigarettes or cannot smoke where you are in lockdown, there are some alternative products that can be substituted for smoking.
If you’ve decided to cut down or use this time to stop smoking altogether, below is some information on the types of stop smoking support you might be able to access by phone or on the internet. These products and services may not be available in every country.
We do not endorse any product or service over another. Our focus is on giving you information so you can consider what might work for you.
Whatever works for you is right for you.
Vaping refers to the use of a battery driven ‘electronic cigarette’ that heats a liquid creating a vapour that is then inhaled. Most vaping liquids contain nicotine, but zero nicotine liquids are also available. Vaping is estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. Switching from smoking to vaping has helped millions of people around the world to stop smoking.
Heat-not-burn products consist of a battery driven device that heats rather than burns the tobacco ‘sticks’ (that look like small cigarettes) that are inserted into it. The sticks contain tobacco that has been soaked in propylene glycol which when heated creates a vapour people inhale. There are a number of different heat-not-burn products but they are not all available in all countries. Because there is no burning it has been estimated that heat-not-burn vapour is about 85% less harmful than continuing to smoke tobacco.
Oral pouches of tobacco (called snus or snuff) or pouches containing fibre soaked in nicotine are a discreet smokeless way of getting nicotine. These pouches are placed between your gum and upper lip. They are different from chewing tobacco which is sold in some countries. Most tobacco products that do not involve inhaling smoke from burning the tobacco are much safer than smoking. The products made with tobacco that has been pasteurised or treated to remove toxins is safer than using raw tobacco mixed with slack lime, areca nut or chewed with betel leaf. Because there is no smoke, use of these oral products should not be banned inside.
There are a range of nicotine replacement products that have been registered as medicines that are primarily used to help people stop smoking. If these products are available in your country, you will usually find them for sale at a pharmacy or in the supermarket. Because these are designed to help people wean off of nicotine, they typically have very low doses of nicotine and release the nicotine slowly so they don’t provide any ‘hit’. For this reason, these products have not been very popular as a substitute for smoking. They might help in the short term, but heavier smokers usually find these products insufficient to stop their cravings.
There are some prescription only medicines that can help people stop smoking. If over-the-counter nicotine replacement products haven’t worked for you, and you don’t have access to any of the other alternative nicotine products or don’t want to use them, then talk to your Doctor about these medicines. They may not be available in your country, or they may not be suitable for you if you have other health conditions
Some countries have free stop smoking support you can access by phone, text, or via a Facebook page or mobile phone app. Many local stop smoking clinics that used to help people face to face are now providing counselling by phone or a video call. These counsellors have been trained in how to help you stop smoking. They will also know what products are available in your area and if you can still get the products while you are in lockdown. To find a stop smoking counsellor, type “quitline” or “stop smoking” into your internet search engine.
There are many mobile phone apps that might be useful tools for helping you to cut down and stop smoking. Unfortunately, not many have been evaluated and some don’t have any content that has been proven to assist behaviour change. Search on the internet for “stop smoking apps reviews” to find a recommended app to try. Stop smoking self-help books have gone out of style and you may not be able to access books to borrow or buy. Probably the most widely used stop smoking book was Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. Keeping up with the times, the Allen Carr programme is now online in some countries – you’ll find it on the internet.
There are many stop smoking support groups and forums on social media. Some mobile apps incorporate a peer support function as well. Some have been set up by stop smoking support services and counsellors. If you’re looking for peer support, look for groups set up and run by people who are going through the same experience as you – trying to cut down or quit. People who have switched to vaping have formed a huge community online. There are hundreds of vape forums and many of them have experienced vapers who can answer any question about vaping products and how they work.