The Best Way to Quit Smoking (It’s Not What You Think!)

A man sits surrounded by petrol, cigarette and lighter in hand.

“I tried cold turkey. I tried using lollipops or candies as an oral fixation. I got 14 cavities but I still smoked, so it did not work out in my favor.”

From an interview with Spike Babaian, Chair National Vapers Club

Most smokers at some point try and fail to quit smoking.

Unfortunately, most of those smokers are using methods which have been proved ineffective.


The pharmaceutical companies that create most cessation products pour huge money into advertising cessation products.

Not just advertising money, but lobbying money. Most anti-smoking groups are funded by the same groups which manufacture cessation aids, and as a result recommend those methods.

Based on scientific data, this blog post  takes a long look at how effective each quit smoking method is – so that you can choose which one is the best for you.

Nicotine Cessation Products

Nicotine cessation product.

The British National Health service give out free cessation products, quit smoking organisations heavily promote them and some schools even give them to children who smoke.

(One boy in the US died after putting all his free patches on at the same time.)

In the UK Pfizer ran a campaign, with campaigners dressed as a Turkey, to persuade people NOT to give up cold turkey.

However when tobacco harm reduction expert Professor Michael Siegel analysed one study on quitting with NRT aids published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, he found the success rate was just 0.8%.

And of 568 smokers who tried to quit using the patches, just 5 managed to stay smoke-free for more than one year.

Michael argued:

Nicotine replacement therapy has no business being the mainstay of the nation’s strategy for smoking cessation.

Source: Tobacco Analysis

Quitting Cold Turkey

A cartoon turkey looks inquisitively out of the picture.


How did 90% of ex-smokers manager to quit?

a. With NRT aids.
b. With drugs.
c. With no help at all.

The answer is… C

A study published in Medpage today concluded:

Smokers are no more likely to give up cigarettes for good by using nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum than if they did not use those quit-smoking aids, a prospective cohort study showed.

And that’s even when counselling was included!

So you are just as likely to quit without NRT as with NRT (and when success is measured at one year you are more likely to be able to quit.)

The general rate of success with Cold Turkey, is considered to be between 3 and 5%, but in high motivational situations up to 11% of smokers successfully quit unaided.

Source: Nicotine Patches, Gum No Help

11% sounds pretty poor, but it takes most smokers several attempts to give up. So if you choose cold turkey, don’t give up giving up.


A cocktail of drugs.

Drugs are more effective.

But for some people, they come at a cost. Check out these stats for one drug:

  • Chantix has been associated with more than 400 cases of violence
  • Chantix has been assocated with more than 11,000 serious adverse effects.
  • Chantix has been associated with 18 times the number of violent cases as one would have expected by chance.
  • There are 200 lawsuits alleging family members committed suicide because of chantix, with another 1375 possible cases to follow.
  • Varenicline, the drug used in Chantix, accounted for 988 serious injuries reported to the FDA, more than any other single drug.

Click here to read about how Chantix lead one man to kill himself and his family. 

An Alternative to Quitting: Tobacco Harm Reduction and Electronic Cigarettes

An e-cigarette in action.
A vapour ring blown from an e-cigarette.

We’ll get back to quitting methods shortly, including the most effective one I had found, but first we wanted to talk about alternatives to smoking that remove 99% of the risk – but none of the pleasure.

But first you need to understand how smoking harms you.

Crucially, it is neither the tobacco nor the nicotine that causes 99% of the harm of smoking.

The problem is caused when you burn tobacco.

As the smoke cools down it creates hundreds of chemicals – including dozens of carcinogens – and tar, and this is what causes the damage to your health.

In contrast, the safest forms of chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes – which produce water vapour containing nicotine – have no combustion.

Nicotine on its own has a risk level similar to coffee – it temporarily raises the blood pressure but is not a carcinogen – and even has some benefits (such as leading to improved short term memory!)

And electronic cigarettes also deal with the habit part of smoking – something NRT aids and drugs fail to address.

Alan Carr’s Method

Head shot of Allen Carr.

Chain smoker Allen Carr smoked 100 cigarettes a day.

Then, after 30 years of smoking, he just quit.

His method doesn’t use drugs or aids. Instead, it focuses on changing the way you look at and think about smoking.

Two independent studies verified that 53% of people attending his clinic successfully quit smoking.

Unfortunately, his method hasn’t been promoted by stop smoking groups, and Action on Smoking and Health attacked his record just days before being forced to apologise in court.


Also see: The 20 Weirdest Ways to Quit Smoking | The Top Ten Most Bizarre Ways to Quit Smoking | How much could you save by quitting?

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