The Ins and Outs of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Anyone who has ever tried to stop smoking knows how unpleasant that experience can be. Withdrawal symptoms are the main reason why it’s difficult to break this addicting habit. The addiction to cigarettes is not caused by tobacco itself but by a chemical it contains – nicotine. This is what makes quitting smoking extremely difficult.

Going “cold turkey” is one way to curb the deadly smoking habit but it may not work for everyone. Nicotine addicts are less likely to succeed if they stop smoking suddenly. This is the logic behind nicotine replacement therapy or NRT which is designed to help smokers quit.

As its name implies, NRT is meant to replace a smoker’s daily nicotine fix by substituting this with medications that contain lower doses of nicotine. These include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges nasal sprays and the use of non-nicotine medications like Zyban and Chantix. By using these products, a smoker can gradually wean away from his dependence on nicotine and not be bothered by withdrawal symptoms.

NRT helps control nicotine cravings without the 4,000 harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Using a pure nicotine substitute is a less harmful way of ingesting nicotine compared to the toxic chemicals you’ll get from an ordinary cigarette.

After using NRT for four to six months, smokers find that they can better control their cravings and are more responsive to nicotine withdrawal. That’s good news for you and your loved ones since you reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease the moment you stop smoking.

Are Filter Cigarettes Better than Regular Cigarettes?

Filtered-tip cigarettes first hit the market in the 1960s shortly after researchers linked smoking and lung cancer. Made from cellulose acetate, the filter supposedly screens out the amount of smoke, tar, nicotine and fine particles that a smoker inhales when burning tobacco.

In theory, filters are designed to reduce the toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. While these dangerous chemicals are not removed entirely, they are supposedly minimized with the help of a filter which can make smoking less dangerous. Because of this, filtered products are marketed as a “safe” cigarette.

Filter cigarettes that are advertised as “low” or “light” actually have tiny, invisible holes that allow air to mix with the smoke. Thus, the smoker is said to inhale more air and less smoke, thereby reducing the amount of tar and nicotine he takes in. That certainly sounds like a good idea to smokers who want to believe they’re doing something about their health. Unfortunately, the American Lung Association said there is no such thing as a “safe” cigarette.

For all its good intentions, filter-tipped cigarettes can’t stop smokers from getting all the nicotine they need to satisfy their uncontrollable craving for this chemical. In fact, their addiction has helped them find ways to get their daily nicotine fix.

In the case of filtered-tip cigarettes, they do this by inhaling more deeply or by covering the holes with their fingers or lips. This exposes smokers of light cigarettes to equal or even greater amounts of toxic chemicals found in regular cigarettes. In effect, filtered cigarettes are no better than your ordinary cancer-causing cigarette.