Smoking cigarettes can cause many health issues. Various alternatives to cigarettes are available, although some can also cause health problems.
When a person smokes a cigarette, they inhale a variety of chemicals. These substances can cause serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that cigarette smoking is responsible for
This article explains the effects of smoking alternatives, tips for quitting smoking, and when to talk with a doctor.
If a person wants to quit smoking, they can swap cigarettes for other tobacco- or nicotine-containing products. Some of these products can be safe alternatives to smoking. However, others contain chemicals that can cause health issues.
Below are some alternatives to smoking standard tobacco.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens, are battery-powered devices that come in different sizes in styles.
E-cigarettes are a fairly new product. This means there is
- carcinogens, which are chemicals that can cause cancer
- acrolein, an herbicide that can cause irreversible lung damage
- diacetyl, which has links to the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans
- diethylene glycol, a chemical linked to lung disease
- heavy metals, such as tin, lead, and nickel
- cadmium, a toxic metal that causes breathing issues and disease
- benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer and other health issues
- lung injuries
- seizures and other neurological symptoms
- injury from the device overheating, catching on fire, or exploding
Cigars are tobacco rolled inside a tobacco leaf or tobacco-containing substance. They can come in different forms, such as cigarillos.
If a person smokes cigars regularly, they have an increased risk of certain cancers. Smoking cigars may also contribute to gum disease and tooth loss.
A person who smokes cigars heavily may be at higher risk of coronary artery disease and lung diseases.
Shisha is a flavored tobacco-containing product smoked through a water pipe called a hookah. Some people may also use the word “shisha” to refer to the hookah.
The CDC notes that smoking hookahs can cause the following health problems:
- lung, bladder, stomach, and oral cancers
- clogged arteries
- heart disease
- reduced fertility
- decreased lung function
The charcoal used to heat the shisha may also increase the chances of developing certain health issues. Burning charcoal can produce high levels of toxic chemicals, such as:
- carbon monoxide
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help wean a person off nicotine without exposing them to harmful chemicals. The
- pregnant people
- people still smoking or using other forms of tobacco
There are a variety of NRT products a person can use, such as:
A person using NRT should follow the product instructions carefully. Misusing these products can lead to nicotine overdose, which can be fatal on rare occasions.
Nicotine is an addictive drug, so it can be difficult for a person to quit smoking. It often takes many tries to quit successfully.
In 2018, the
In 2021, just over 60% of adolescents who use tobacco products stated that they had stopped for a day or more in the last year in an attempt to quit.
But in 2018, 61.7% of adults who ever smoked had successfully quit.
Despite the difficulties, a person who wants to stop smoking should try not to become discouraged. It is very possible to quit smoking. There are various techniques a person can use to stay smoke-free. If one does not work, there are many more for a person to try.
Techniques a person can use to stop smoking include:
- making a quit plan with a doctor
- using a quit smoking app
- starting an exercise routine
- spending more time with nonsmoking friends and family
- avoiding triggers, such as caffeine and alcohol
- avoiding places where smoking is common, such as bars
- throwing away all cigarettes and other smoking equipment
- Get out of the house and take a brisk walk.
- Keep substitutes nearby, such as gum, hard candy, carrot sticks, apples, celery, or pickles.
- Acknowledge that feelings such as anger and irritability are normal and will subside in time.
- Keep hands busy with a pen or toothpick.
- Take a bath or shower.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Say “no” out loud when feeling cravings.
- Wear a rubber band on the wrist and snap it when cravings occur.
There are many places a person can find help to quit smoking. If a person wants to quit or is struggling, they can speak with a healthcare professional. Additionally, a person can find help from:
- friends and family
- text message programs, such as SmokefreeTXT
- smartphone apps, such as QuitGuide or quitSTART
- social media support, such as Smokefree
- quitlines, such as the
National Cancer Institute Quitline
- speaking with a counselor on sites such as
Smoking can affect a person’s health in
A person can also speak with a doctor if they have difficulty giving up cigarettes. A doctor can advise about different methods they can try, including medication.
Although it can be difficult to stop smoking, using NRT can make it easier. The American Cancer Society notes that NRT can
If a person successfully quits smoking, it can provide them with many health benefits, such as:
- improved general health and quality of life
- reduced risk of premature death
- reduced risk of many health conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease
Cigarettes contain many toxic chemicals, which can cause many health issues. There are various alternatives a person can use instead of cigarettes. However, many of these contain tobacco and other harmful substances.
When used properly, NRT is a safe alternative to cigarettes.
If a person wants to quit smoking, many forms of support are available. A person can speak with a doctor if they have difficulty giving up cigarettes.
A person who smokes is encouraged to speak with a doctor if they notice any new or unusual symptoms.