SMOKING ALTERNATIVES WOVEN INTO THE FABRICS OF SOCIETY
With the origins of smoking traced back to as early as 5000 BC, smoking has had a remarkably long period of time to be cultivated into a habitual, social and cultural phenomenon that has transcended generations. It’s no wonder why breaking the chain of smoking is going to take tremendous effort despite people already knowing the detrimental effects smoking presents.
We all know that the main culprit causing the most damage when smoking, is tobacco - specifically, the burning of tobacco. There are over 7,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke including infamous toxicants such as carcinogen, tar and carbon monoxide to name a few that contribute to an array of damaging illnesses leading to premature deaths.
Nonetheless, it is the distinctly addictive nicotine content that is naturally found in tobacco that entraps many in an unfortunate cycle of coming back and wanting more. Nicotine is responsible for releasing dopamine into brain cell receptors, making people feel good and craving more. In other words, nicotine is like the yin to tobacco’s yang. The two, in the case of cigarettes are dependent on one another, making smoking cessation an impeccably arduous habit to break.
So, while the best thing any smoker can do is to quit smoking tobacco and nicotine entirely, the reality is, it’s not that simple - but, baby steps!
THE GAME PLAN
With the evolution of science and technology, we have seen incredible breakthroughs that have set us on a trajectory aimed towards achieving the goal. Scientists have worked tirelessly to develop strategies and various alternatives to aid in this mission.
So, what are the options?
There are many alternatives available in the global market that serve as potential tobacco harm reduction vehicles, including:
(Before reading any further, it’s important to note that while these products are not risk-free, they do however contain significantly lower levels of toxicants, thus, reducing harm to the human body.)
Examples: Vape, vape pens, e-hookah, e-pipe, e-cigars and many more.
What is it: A battery-operated device that does not contain tobacco. Instead, it works by heating an e-liquid to emit a vaporized solution upon inhalation to simulate tobacco smoking (but with relatively less harmful vapor!). The e-liquid typically contains a mixture of chemicals, artificial flavourings, and nicotine. However, options for non-nicotine e-cigarettes are also available.
2. Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs)
Examples: IQOS, Ploom TECH, PAX, Glo and many more.
What is it: HTPs are devices that employ battery-powered heating systems to heat tobacco to produce nicotine. Unlike cigarettes, HTPs do not burn tobacco, but as its name implies, heats it before allowing it to reach its combustion point.
3. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Examples: Nicotine infused products such as gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers and more.
What is it: A commonly used, medically approved method that administers nicotine to a user without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco. NRT comes in many sizes, shapes, and forms, designed to help those who quit smoking - especially those who suffer from severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms. NRTs are widely available at pharmacies.
4. Smokeless Tobacco
Examples: Snus, snuff tobacco or chewing tobacco.
What is it: Smokeless tobacco supplies nicotine without the combustion of tobacco and is administered either orally or nasally. As it does not involve the combustion of tobacco, therefore presenting no risks without smoke inhalation, smokeless tobacco is generally considered less harmful than smoking cigarettes - albeit, addictive.
With so many available alternatives in the market, users have ample opportunity to select which option works best to help reduce tobacco harm. Fundamentally, it all boils down to your personal preference, whether in taste, texture, or experience, as well as what is presently accessible to them in their local market.