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Smoking continues to be a major concern, affecting the health of a substantial proportion of the population. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates nearly 18 out of every 100 adults aged 18 or older in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. That equates to an estimated 42.1 million people.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States, annually contributing to roughly 500,000 deaths. Although smoking rates have been on the decline, public health officials believe there is still more to be done, including educating youth about the dangers of smoking.
Those who already smoke may be interested in quitting the habit once and for all. The following are some of the more popular smoking cessation methods.
• Vaporizers and e-cigarettes: Vaporizers and e-cigarettes involve inhaling water vapor through various devices. The vapor contains nicotine and can be customized based on the desired nicotine level. Vapor does not produce any secondhand smoke and can be relatively odorless. Individuals are increasingly turning to e-cigarettes and vaping products as an alternative to traditional cigarettes and as a means to quitting. The FDA does not presently regulate electronic cigarettes and vaping liquids, nor are there any large scale, long-term studies that prove the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method. More large trials are required before vaping products can be recommended to people looking to quit smoking.
• Nicotine patches: Nicotine patches can be effective at helping smokers get past the physical withdrawal period of quitting smoking. The patches deliver nicotine in select doses and ease the physical and emotional effects associated with quitting as part of an approach called nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT. NRT products are primarily used in the first few weeks following cessation from tobacco and can be more effective than going cold turkey. According to SmokeFree.gov, certain NRT products can double a person's chances of quitting for good. But such products are not designed to be used long-term as replacements for cigarettes.
• Prescription medications: Individuals who seek help from their doctors as they attempt to quit smoking may be prescribed certain medications to help reduce their urges to smoke. Commonly used medications include bupropion and varenicline. Bupropion, also known as Zyban®, helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. Varenicline, commonly known as Chantix®, can stop smoking urges and block the effects on the brain from nicotine. These medications should be used under the guidance of a doctor, and patients should be aware of possible side effects.
Cigarette smoking is a habit that can have profound effects on personal health. Quitting gives people the best option to prevent serious illness. There are many cessation therapies available to help smokers kick the habit.