12 Alternatives to Smoking (Including Nic-Free Vapes): Pros & Cons

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If the thought of quitting cold turkey stops you from saying goodbye to cigarettes forever — don’t worry. We get it.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and trying to quit without any aid may increase the risk of picking up the habit again.

The good news?

There are several alternatives to smoking that can help you quit. These include vapes and electronic cigarettes, Heat-Not-Burn devices, and prescription medications.

We’ll also cover some intriguing FAQs and present a safer smoking alternative — nicotine-free vaping from Cyclone Pods.

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12 Best Alternatives to Smoking (+ Pros & Cons)

The decision to quit smoking is unique to you. So, the alternative or combination of alternatives you pick should align with your specific preferences.

Here are 12 practical alternatives to smoking a traditional cigarette:

1. Vapes and Electronic Cigarettes

Possibly the most popular alternative to smoking, an electronic cigarette operates by releasing nicotine in vapor form. This makes these vaping products an effective alternative to tobacco cigarette smoking.

Here’s the kicker, though:

Vapes and e-cigarettes don't have official FDA approval to help you quit smoking. But, recent research suggests they could be a promising path to quit.

A 2023 Cochrane study found that about 14 out of 100 smokers successfully quit using e-cigarettes, compared to only 6 out of 100 without any stop-smoking aids.

So, why are electronic cigarette and vaping products hailed as effective for quitting?

E cigarette users can control their nicotine strength, allowing them to dial down their nicotine intake and slowly kick the habit. Plus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that this controlled approach can assist in managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms during the shift from regular tobacco cigarette use.

Despite being less addictive than traditional smoking, there’s a catch to nicotine vapes. They can still keep you hooked on nicotine and come with health risks familiar to every smoker. These include lung scarring, exposure to secondhand smoke, and organ damage.

Additionally, low-quality, unregulated vape products contain other extremely harmful chemicals like diacetyl (the cause of popcorn lung), formaldehyde, and vitamin E acetate.

Thankfully, companies like Cyclone Pods aim to make vaping safer and more accessible with their nicotine-free vape range.

Cyclone Pods is a US-based vape company that provides a world-class vaping product range that is free from harmful chemical compounds like:
  • Nicotine
  • Diacetyl
  • Vitamin E acetate
  • Formaldehyde

Looking to test out a nicotine-free vaping device for yourself?

Try the Gust Super from Cyclone Pods. It packs in over 5000 puffs and comes in 15 delicious flavors, including:

  • Mint
  • Mango
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon

Or, if you prefer a longer-lasting vaping device with refillable pods, try out the Thunder Device.

2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

NRT is a method where you replace vaping with other less-harmful nicotine-based products.

With NRT, you’ll still need to put in the effort to quit your vaping addiction. However, it'll take a lot of the weight off your shoulders since you’re not giving up nicotine entirely.

The three most common forms of NRT include:

  • Nicotine patch: Nicotine patches are adhesive badges that release nicotine into your body through the skin.

    The slow release of nicotine from a nicotine patch can last several hours, satisfying your nicotine craving in a controlled manner.

  • Nicotine gum: Nicotine gum is a two-for-one smoking aid - it satisfies your nicotine craving as well as the craving for oral fixation (unlike nicotine patches). It releases nicotine into your bloodstream through the tissues in the mouth.

  • Nicotine inhalers: Nicotine inhalers work just like asthma pumps. Taking short, shallow breaths from the inhaler throughout the day supplies you with fast doses of nicotine, giving a similar experience to smoking tobacco. They’re not inhaled directly into the lungs but are absorbed in the back of the throat.

Many people find quitting smoking or vaping easier when not facing intense withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings. According to research from the National Institute of Health, NRTs have proven to be highly effective, with increased chances of success between 50% - 70%.

However, while NRTs satisfy a nicotine craving, the release of nicotine is slow compared to inhaling e-vapor or tobacco smoke. Moreover, NRT methods may have several health risks and side effects, including skin irritation (with patches) and mouth sores (with nicotine gum.)

While nicotine replacement therapy is excellent at diverting nicotine addiction, you may still have the urge to vape since the nicotine addiction itself is not combatted - only replaced.

3. Heated Tobacco Products (Heat-Not-Burn Devices)

Heat-not-burn devices are similar to electronic cigarettes, except that instead of vaporizing e-liquids, they slowly heat up a raw tobacco product to extract vapor. No tobacco product is burnt during this process (no combustion).

Dry herb vaporizers use either conduction or convection heating to vaporize the herb. Both methods produce the same outcome — heating herbs at a temperature much lower than combustion (lower than 446°F or 230°C).

Burning some herbs may release harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide, harming the user and the people around them.

While there’s no limit to the herbs you can use in a portable dry herb vaporizer, there are certainly a few fan favorites that steal the spotlight.

Some popular herbs used in dry herb vaporizers include:

  • Cannabis flower (marijuana)
  • Tobacco leaf
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Green tea
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Ground coffee
  • Cannabis flower (marijuana)

4. Herbal Cigarettes

Herbal cigarettes have many of the same traits as your traditional cigarette — they are rolled in paper, contain a filter, and are set alight on one end.

The difference?
They don't contain any traditional tobacco product or nicotine.

Instead, they contain one of these herbs and claim to help lessen the urge to smoke:

  • Damiana
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Coltsfoot
  • Lavender
  • Mugwort
  • Rose petals

Although they are a popular smoking cessation aid, recent studies have found that they may cause more harm than good.

A report from the NCBI revealed that herbal cigarettes can produce “notable metabolic problems that increase the risk of several chronic metabolic diseases.” Simply the act of burning plant matter poses health risks.

When plant materials are burned, they typically release harmful chemicals and carcinogens like carbon monoxide, polyaromatics, nicotine, and N-nitrosamines.

Additionally, the herbal cigarette market is far less regulated than conventional cigarette products, implying that the ingredients may not be mentioned at all or are not guaranteed to be safe.

5. Smokeless Tobacco Products

Another common alternative to smoking is smokeless tobacco products like dry snuff, chewing tobacco, nicotine pouches, dissolvables, and snus. They do not need to be burnt to release nicotine.

These products are typically inhaled in powder form or held in the mouth to release nicotine, which still gives the kick that cigarette smokers crave.

The pros of smokeless tobacco use are that there’s no need for combustion, removing the risk of inhaling potential carcinogens.

The cons?

Cigarette smokers still get their nicotine addiction fed — but that’s the least of your worries!

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the potential oral health risks of smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco and nicotine pouches include:

  • Mouth, esophagus, and pancreatic cancer
  • Mouth diseases
  • Early delivery during pregnancy and stillbirth
  • Nicotine poisoning in children
  • Death from heart disease and/or stoke

Fortunately, there are other alternatives with fewer risks to your oral health.

6. Prescription Medications

A more regulated approach to leaning away from cigarette smoking is to take prescription medications.

Let’s take a look at two popular brands - Bupropion SR and Varenicline.

  • Bupropion SR: Works by reducing the urges and cravings presented during nicotine withdrawal. However, Bupropion SR is not suitable for pregnant women, those who have seizures and epilepsy, alcoholics, or people with eating disorders.

    Potential risks of Bupropion SR include:
    • Eye pain/swelling/redness
    • Widened pupils
    • Changes in vision (such as seeing rainbows around night light)
    • Seizures

  • Varenicline: Also works to reduce the presence of cravings and urges during nicotine withdrawal. Note that people suffering from kidney problems or pregnant women/women planning to become pregnant or breastfeed should avoid using Varenicline.

    Potential risks of Varenicline include:
    • Skin irritation
    • Nausea
    • Insomnia
    • Abnormal and vivid dreams
    • Headaches
    • Affects skin syndromes like Stevens-Johnson syndrome
    • Renal failure
    • Kidney stones
    • Increased risk of pancreatitis

While medications might work well for most, some prefer less invasive methods. That’s what we’ll discuss next.

7. Counseling and Support

Moving away from tobacco cigarette use is an emotionally and physically demanding task. Doing it on your own only makes the process more difficult. So, people who attempt to kick the habit often seek out others to support them and keep them accountable.

There are three popular methods:

  • Counseling: Counseling gives you psychological support and coping strategies to address the underlying triggers and habits associated with smoking. This helps in behavior modification and prevents relapses. The personalized guidance and emotional support can help you manage cravings and stress as well.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT works to lessen the burden of mental health issues like anxiety and depression that often accompany smoking cessation. It’s an excellent way to treat mental health issues and substance abuse.

  • Support Groups: Quitting cigarette smoking alongside someone, like a friend, or being involved with a support group helps to lighten the burden of your struggles. It helps knowing that other people are going through the same experience as you, forcing you to be held accountable for your actions.

8. Alternative Therapies

If support circles aren't your thing, there are a few popular alternative therapies to help you get off smoking:

  • Acupuncture: A traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting long, thin needles into the muscles and pressure points of the body. It’s believed to assist the body in balancing energy and relieve pain.

  • Guided Imagery: A form of meditation where you relax and focus on positive aspects within yourself and life in an attempt to reduce pain, stress, and discomfort.

  • Hypnosis: A state where your mind is relaxed and focused, making you more open to ideas. It's similar to daydreaming or being really focused on something. A trained hypnotist uses calming words or pictures to help you relax deeply and then help change your thoughts, behaviors, or feelings towards certain habits or situations based on suggestions.

9. Try Healthy Snack Alternatives

When you stop smoking, nicotine withdrawal is a given. But that’s only half the battle. Oral fixation will present itself as a formidable foe and will keep you reaching for things to put in your mouth.

When this is the case, why not replace a bad habit with a healthy one?

Feasting healthy snacks like carrots and fruit will not only help ease your oral fixation but will also re-wire your brain into making better, healthier choices when you get cravings.

Other snacks you could try are:

  • Healthy popsicles or lollipops
  • Healthy chewing gum and candies
  • Sunflower seeds

10. Engage in Mindfulness Exercises

Guided meditation, gratitude, breathing exercises, yoga — these are all extremely effective mindfulness practices that you can use to fortify your mind during testing times.

Being mindful allows you to detach from your experiences and focus on the importance of your decisions.

When done right (and consistently), you’ll emerge stronger than your cravings.

Being mindful every day becomes a lifestyle, and when paired with exercise, it can raise your standard of living significantly.

11. Engage in Healthy Activities, Like Exercise

It’s well known that exercise releases endorphins that help reduce the physical and mental cravings from nicotine addiction. Additionally, keeping active in itself will distract you from cravings.

Great ways to stay active include hiking, going for walks, picking up a sport, etc.

12. Stay Occupied With Hobbies and Tasks

Every second that you stay busy with a task is one less second you spend thinking about cravings and urges. So, find ways to keep your hands and mind busy, especially when you have free time and nothing else to do.

Solve a puzzle, write a short story, draw, or bake your favorite dessert. You can play video games, go to an amusement park, or play mini-golf, etc.

Positive activities like these will boost your mood and form a healthy relationship with yourself.

If all else fails, go find tasks around the house, like washing your car, organizing your closet, or rearranging your bedroom. Completing activities like these will give you a sense of achievement, which will encourage you to tackle more intimidating challenges (like quitting cigarettes).

In case you have any unanswered questions, let’s cover them now.

FAQs About Smoking Alternatives

Here are the answers to some other queries you may have.

1. What Are the Side Effects of Smoking Nicotine?

Nicotine is known to cause a variety of health problems and side effects. Studies from the National Institute of Health show that nicotine can hamper brain development in young adults under the age of 25.

That aside, nicotine can cause a variety of other harmful side effects and health risks, including:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Changes in blood flow and increased blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Increased risk of blood clotting
  • Changes in heart rhythm and heart rate
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint pain

2. What Are the Common Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms?

When you decide to quit smoking, understanding the common nicotine withdrawal symptoms is crucial. These symptoms can vary, but being aware of what to expect can help you navigate this challenging but rewarding journey.

Here are the most common nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cigarette cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Irritable moods

3. Are Vapes Healthier Than Cigarettes?

When you quit smoking and turn to vaping, you're making a healthier choice for your lungs and overall well-being. Public Health England backs this up, stating that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.

Think about it: Traditional cigarettes have about 7000 harmful chemicals, with 70 causing cancer. Whereas vaping only has around 2000 chemicals in its aerosol – way less.

Plus, vaping doesn't put those around you at the same risk as smoking does. Cigarette smoke is tough on bystanders, but e-cigarette aerosol is much gentler.

One more thing that makes vaping safer?

It doesn't have two harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke – carbon monoxide and tar. Breathing in carbon monoxide messes with how your body uses oxygen, and that's not good for your brain and heart.

And what’s safer than vaping nicotine e-cigarettes? Nicotine-free vapes, of course.

Choose The Safer Alternative: Nicotine-Free Vapes From Cyclone Pods

While there are plenty of vaping alternatives on the market, most of them have downsides, especially when containing nicotine.

Unless you decide to quit vaping entirely, or at least remove nicotine and other harmful chemicals from the picture, you’re not making much progress in the health department.

So, if you don’t want to give up smoking just yet but want to live a healthier, more fulfilling life, try nicotine-free vaping from Cyclone Pods right away.

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