Stop smoking

Stop smoking aids

Stopping can be made easier when combined with some extra support.

Stopping smoking

Types of stop smoking aids

There are three different ways you can replace the nicotine you get from cigarettes to help you quit for good. These include:-

  • Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), such as patches, sprays, gum and lozenges
  • Prescription-only medicines (tablets) – accessed via your GP
  • Nicotine vapes (e-cigarettes)

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)

Gum

You chew the gum and then rest it on the inside of your cheek to deliver nicotine through the lining of your mouth and throat. It is available in different strengths and gives short bursts of nicotine fast.

Inhalator

This delivers nicotine through the lining of the mouth and throat. The inhaler mimics the hand to mouth habit of smoking. It works faster than gum and lozenges.

Lozenge

You suck a lozenge and then rest it inside your cheek to deliver nicotine through the lining of your mouth and throat. They come in different strengths and give a short burst of nicotine fast

Nasal spray

This delivers nicotine through the lining of the nose. It is the fastest way that nicotine can enter the bloodstream and they mimic the rush you get from smoking more closely than any other NRT

Oral spray

This delivers nicotine through the lining of the mouth and throat. Like a nasal spray, they are fast-acting

Nicotine micro tablet

These are small tablets that dissolve quickly under your tongue to deliver nicotine through the lining of your mouth and throat

Transdermal patch

These deliver a steady dose of nicotine through your skin. You can wear a 24-hour patch all the time, to help with cravings when you wake up, or a 16-hour patch for while you are awake.

These therapies will give you the nicotine without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. They can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms of quitting. They have been around for many years and are readily available in pharmacies, supermarkets, and a range of other outlets. You can even be prescribed them by a doctor or stop smoking service.
To get the best results it is a good idea to use a combination of NRTs. 

Think ‘low and slow’ like a patch to keep you at a constant level, in combination with ‘strong and fast’ like a spray, inhaler, or gum to deal with immediate cravings. When you feel ready you can gradually reduce your dose of NRTs until you eventually stop. It is recommended that NRTs are used for about 12 weeks or as long as they are needed to stop you from smoking again.

Nicotine Pouches
These are new to the UK and are currently not recommended as a stop-smoking aid because of the lack of research on how safe or effective they are for stopping smoking. They work by placing the pouch between the lip and the gum and come in different nicotine strengths and flavours.

Prescription-only medication

There are two prescriptions only for stop-smoking medicines, which are in tablet form.

These medicines do not contain nicotine, but they can help with withdrawal symptoms.

If recommended by a GP or a stop smoking adviser, they can be taken together with NRTs (Nicotine Replacement Therapy).

  • Bupropion – Brand name Zyban
  • Varenicline – Brand name Champix

Drugs affected by smoking cessation

Smoking cigarettes (not the nicotine) increases the metabolism of some medicines by stimulating certain enzymes. So, when smoking stops, the dose of these drugs may need to be reduced and the person monitored for side effects.

  • Aminophylline
  • Theophylline
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Clozapine
  • Erlotinib
  • Flecainide
  • Methadone
  • Olanzapine
  • Riociguat
  • Warfarin
male hands emptying some medication

Vaping

Nicotine vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking. It’s also one of the most effective tools for quitting smoking.

Vaping is not completely harmless and we only recommend it for adult smokers, to support quitting smoking and staying quit.Vapes are electronic devices that let you inhale nicotine in an aerosol, or vapour, instead of smoke. This is done by heating a solution (e-liquid) that typically contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and nicotine.

E-liquids come in different nicotine strengths, so you control how much nicotine you need to help with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritable and having low mood.

Nicotine itself is not very harmful (it’s the chemicals in the smoke which is most harmful) and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking.

Watch a short video about people who have made the switch from smoking to vaping

Vaping Myths

E-cigarettes give you ‘popcorn lung.’

This myth came about because of the flavouring called diacetyl – used to give a buttery flavour to e-liquids. When people are exposed to it in high doses it causes a serious lung disease. It was initially observed among workers in a popcorn factory hence the name. However, diacetyl is banned as an ingredient in e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK. It had been detected in small amounts in the past but only in very small doses and not enough to cause a problem for people’s health.

E-cigarettes are not regulated, and we do not know what is in them.

The UK has some of the strictest regulations for e-cigarettes in the world, thanks to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations Act of 2016. All products meet minimum standards of quality and safety. They are restricted in their packaging and labeling, and all ingredients are listed.

E-cigarettes must be harmful because they contain nicotine

Four out of 10 people think that nicotine causes most of the tobacco smoking-related cancers, but they are mistaken. It is the toxic cocktail of other chemicals inhaled in smoke that causes the health-related issues associated with smoking. Nicotine is the reason people become addicted to smoking this toxic mix. E-cigarette vapour does not contain tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. It does contain some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke but at much lower levels. They are at least 95% less harmful.

Exposure to e-cigarette vapour is harmful to bystanders

Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes have no side-stream vapour just what is exhaled by the vaper. Public Health England in 2018 found that to date there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to the health of bystanders.

E-cigarettes will lead young people to smoke

UK surveys show that young people are experimenting with e-cigarettes, but regular use is rare and confined to those who already smoke.

E-cigarettes are being used as a Trojan horse - so the tobacco industry can keep people smoking.

The proportion of vapers who are ex-smokers has been increasing over recent years. Of the 3.2 million adult e-cigarette users in the UK, more than half have completely stopped smoking. A further 770,000 have given up both smoking and vaping. At the same time, stop success rates have been improving and we are seeing an accelerated drop in smoking rates, currently at a record low of 14.9% in England.

E-cigarettes do not help you stop smoking

    In February 2019 a major UK HIHR-funded clinical trial was published involving 900 participants, it found that in Local Stop Smoking Services, a standard e-cigarette was twice as effective at helping smokers to quit compared with the quitter’s choice of combination NRT.

    E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free but carry a fraction of the risk of smoking and are helping thousands of smokers to quit and stay smoke-free.
    Other concerns include:-

    Can vapes explode and cause serious injury?

    It is true that some e-cigarettes have exploded in the past however these incidents are very rare. Most have been because of improper use, such as using the wrong charger, modifying the device, or allowing the device to overheat. Vapes are safe devices when used properly and users follow manufacturer instructions.

    Are vapes as addictive as traditional cigarettes?

    While they do contain nicotine, they are not as addictive as traditional cigarettes and tobacco products. They contain smaller doses of nicotine which makes them less addictive and are a fantastic tool that is proven to help smokers stop.

    Vaping in pregnancy

    Vaping is significantly less harmful to health than tobacco. However, very little evidence exists about vaping during pregnancy. More research is needed.

    While licensed NRT products are recommended – if pregnant women choose to use vapes to help them quit smoking and stay smoke-free, they should be supported to do so.

    Vaping can be used to maintain a smoke-free home and protect children from secondhand smoke.

    Based on available evidence there is no reason to believe that vaping would compromise breastfeeding.

    Stopping Vaping

    Vaping is great to help you stop smoking and while some people are happy to continue to vape many people want to stop completely.

    It is important to get advice and support in your attempt because how you quit vaping can put you at risk of a relapse in your stop-smoking attempt altogether.

    Reasons to stop vaping.

    • You want to stop inhaling any substance.
    • You worry about the cost of vaping.
    • You are confident in being able to stay smoke-free without vaping.
    • Worry about the harm of vaping.
    • Your family and friends may also want you to stop because of their concern about vaping’s safety.
    • You may feel that vaping is not helping you and is maintaining your nicotine addiction and not reducing tobacco withdrawal symptoms.

    It is important that you make an informed decision. If vaping is helping you to stay smoke-free, then there is no rush to stop. The last thing you want is to rush into it and relapse and pick up the cigarettes again.

    Remember
    • Vapes are considerably less harmful than smoking because they do not involve burning tobacco.
    • Evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to health than smoking tobacco.
    • Short-term use of vapes appears to pose few if any risks. Throat irritation and a slight cough are the most reported symptoms, and these subside over time.
    • It is not uncommon to use them for extended periods. More than half of ex-smokers who are vapers report they have been vaping for more than 3 years.
    • Although there is limited high-quality safety data for long-term use of vapes there is no good reason to expect that their use would be anywhere near as risky as smoking.

    If you are ready, there are options available to you

    Gradual reduction

    As a rule, clients in the initial stages of stopping should go more slowly but if you have stopped smoking for 12 weeks or longer you can set goals to reduce every two to four weeks or as long as needed. Try going down from 20mg, -18mg-12mg-6mg-3mg-0! It is important that you do not rush and add any additional pressure to the process.

    Extend time

    Another way is to extend the time between vaping. So, for example from every 20 minutes to every 40 and so on.

    Set rules

    Setting rules for yourself about where and when you vape. Outside the home or car, only on breaks at work etc. This will not necessarily lead to a reduction in the amount you vape, but it will weaken the link between vaping and specific situations and times.

    Stopping in one go

    If you decide to stop in one go, be mindful of how you are feeling as you go through your day. Use the techniques for managing urges to smoke, such as distraction and commitment to ‘not-a-puff’ rule. But remember it is ok to go back to vape if you would otherwise reach for a cigarette. If you want to stop vaping immediately you may want to use NRT products to help you. It is generally a good idea to combine a patch that helps keep nicotine levels constant with a faster-acting product like gum.

    If you use a disposable vape

    It is not as easy to reduce the dose with a disposable vape because there is not a variety of nicotine strengths available. You could buy a different tank system, vape, and switch to this. Or restrict where you vape and the length of time that you vape. Take short puffs too. You can buy disposable vapes with 0% nicotine strength so alternating between nicotine and no nicotine could work too.

    Safely disposing of vapes

    More people are taking up vaping and with that comes waste, particularly with the introduction of disposable vapes.

    Consider too that vapes are made of robust plastics and heavy metals. So how do you make sure that you are not adding to the Climate Crisis and disposing of your vapes with the environment in mind?

    How to Dispose of Disposable Vapes UK
    If you are short on time, then one way to ensure your disposable vapes are being disposed of safely is to store them somewhere safe until you have saved up a good few.

    Once you have built up a decent collection of used vapes, take them to your local recycling centre where they will be happy to dispose of them for you.

    Make a positive change today

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    There are lifestyle choices you can make to boost your health and emotional wellbeing.

    Being informed and intentional about diet, activity, sleep, or smoking can reduce your health risks and lead to healthier, happier lives.

    Be active

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    Being active can lift our mood, improve sleep and make us feel more connected, as well as reduce the risk of major illnesses.

    Feel Good Suffolk has a range of support and information to help you get motivated, stay focused and be active.

    Healthy weight

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    Maintaining a healthy weight helps us maintain good health and can help prevent or manage long-term health conditions. 

    Feel Good Suffolk has a range of support and information to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

    Need help to stop smoking? Get support local to you

    Feel Good Suffolk Advisors are there to offer support and advice on stopping smoking, healthy weight and being more active. They will tell you about the services available, tell you about what other options there are in your local area and community and guide you through on-line self-help.

    They can also advise you on the eligibility criteria for more intensive levels of support around managing a healthy weight, stopping smoking and being more active.