1. Stop-smoking methods ...
You will find details here of every known stop-smoking method available in the UK. We do not offer any opinion as to the efficacy of any of these products or services. The market is dominated by the drug industry / NHS combine, but this is a function of financial muscle rather than having better methods.
Every one of these methods ‘works’, for some smokers. If we have not included a product or therapy that you might have come across, this is simply because we have not seen evidence of efficacy. This does not mean it does not work though.
If you offer a product or service, not mentioned here, that can help smokers, you are welcome to tell us about it. See our contact information.
2. Which one is best? ...
You want to know which stop-smoking method works the best, and that’s perfectly understandable.
Unfortunately, there is no answer. This is mainly because smoking is such a complex socio-medical problem that no therapy or product can claim to resolve every issue the smoker has. For example, if your problem is the addiction to nicotine, then acupuncture will help, but if you also live with a smoker who deliberately smokes in front of you, this is not an addiction problem and requires a separate solution. If your main problem is the habit, then an NRP will help you break the habit, but it won’t help you overcome the addiction.
For most smokers, there is more than one problem to be resolved. Assessing what your individual problems are is critical to this process, so do go to the page in this section that will help you with that.
What answer you get about the relative efficacy of methods will depend on who you ask. For example, if you ask a hypnotherapist, they will say hypnotherapy is the best method, and that the NHS policy of giving you more nicotine is barmy. If you ask your GP or practice nurse which is best, they will say hypnotherapy is unproven and NRPs and psychotropic drugs are the only proven methods.
So where does the truth lie?
It is true that the NHS’s drugs are the only proven methods. According to published statistics, these drugs are more effective than placebo. This means that more people succeed when given a real drug than when given a dummy drug. The actual number of people stopping smoking with these drugs is not available to the public and is not provided by the NHS to patients when prescribing the drugs, nor is it printed on the packaging for these drugs so that patients can make a judgment about taking them.
So why haven’t non-drug therapies been tested and published? Simply because the only tests are those paid for by drug companies who have a great deal of money to do the tests and who stand to benefit in profit terms from the tests. Hypnotherapy and acupuncture, for example, do not have access to this kind of funding.
3. The Phoenix Stop-Smoking Programme ...
This is one of the treatments available from the National Smoking Cessation Institute. It is based on a combined approach – the relief of addictive cravings through Addiction Neutralisation Therapy (using a tobacco neutrogen), and addressing the psychological dependence on smoking that has been created by the addiction.
It is probably the most expensive programme available in the UK for smokers, so will only appeal to the hardest cases.
Where to get it -
4. Psychotropic Drugs ...
The NHS’s other product range for smokers comprises two mood-altering drugs, Zyban (buproprion hydrochloride) and Champix (varenicline).
The general idea behind these drugs is that they reduce the effect on the brain of withdrawal symptoms, thus putting you more in control of your craving. There is some sense in this idea, and even limited success would vindicate their use, but these drugs do come with a wide range of fairly serious side effects.
If you are considering asking your GP for either of these drugs, do some research into the side effects on the Web before making your decision.
Where to get it -
Only available on prescription.
5. Hypnotherapy ...
When you have smoked for a number of years, the addiction creates what is properly called psychological dependence. This means your brain refuses to let go of the idea of smoking.
A hypnotherapist can get into your subconscious mind and undo this damage. When you come out of your hypnotherapy treatment, your brain has been retrained to see smoking as something you simply don’t need.
If you see a hypnotherapist, you might also undergo one of these three therapies alongside the hypnotherapy:
Neuro-linguistic programming: This is a way of re-educating you to think differently (about anything, but in this case smoking), without the use of hypnosis, although it is often used as an adjunct.
Emotional freedom technique: This is actually shiatsu, which is a completely valid stress-management technique, used at the same time as the repetition of affirmations.
Thought-field therapy: As far as we can make out, this is another name for EFT (above). If you know better, please do correct us and we will update this information.
Where to get it -
There are too many hypnotherapy associations to list, and some are more reliable than others. For an NSCI hypnotherapist visit www.national-smoking-cessation-institute.org
6. Acupuncture ...
Acupuncture is what is called a single discipline therapy – it addresses the primary problem in smoking cessation only, which is addiction. The available evidence is that acupuncture is very successful in this limited objective. We recommend that it is always combined with help to deal with the psychological issues at the same time.
Always choose an acupuncturist who is either a member of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) or a medical doctor. All NSCI acupuncturists are MBAcC.
Laser acupuncture: This appears to be based on acupuncture. It may be successful – we don’t know. However, our investigations suggest that it is a clinical-type therapy, and unless therefore it is provided by a professional with clinical qualifications we would advise smokers to be cautious. If the person providing the therapy is a qualified and registered acupuncturist or nurse, for example, you should be fine.
7. Nicotine Replacement Products (NRPs) ...
These are often referred to collectively as nicotine replacement therapy. However, there is no actual therapy involved, as they are all self-administered drug products, so the correct term is NRPs.
The NHS subscribes to the view, rightly or wrongly, that giving smokers nicotine is therapeutic. The rationale for this is that taking nicotine helps you to wean yourself off smoking.
Whether this is a valid proposition or not, it is one of only two product types the NHS offers. GPs are not in a position to offer therapy to smokers, because therapy is not part of the National Health Service model for the general practice provision of healthcare.
Where to get it -
Any supermarket or pharmacy. Your GP may prescribe it.
8. Allen Carr’s Easyway ...
Don’t confuse the books that Allen Carr wrote with the group sessions we’re talking about here. A book is not a therapy, it’s a book.
In the Easyway session, a group leader talks to a group of typically a dozen smokers, for several hours, along the lines of the books. It’s a form of brainwashing, the idea being that by the end of this you really believe what you’ve been told, so much so that it has, to some extent, had the effect of hypnotherapy. If you like the group thing, this might be for you.
If you find that this method is a lot cheaper than hypnotherapy in your area, you should consider it as an option.
Where to get it -
9. Herbal Cigarettes ...
The idea behind herbal cigarettes is that smoking one has two beneficial effects:
It is the exact opposite of an NRP. NRPs feed your addiction to nicotine while you break the habit of smoking. Herbal cigarettes allow you to maintain the habit while you break the addiction to nicotine.
The action of smoking a herbal cigarette, whilst it doesn’t give you nicotine because it’s not tobacco, also fools the brain into believing it IS seeing nicotine, because the action of smoking has, for a long time, fed you with nicotine. Your brain comes to believe that the action of smoking (even something non-addictive) is giving your body what it needs, thus satisfying the craving.
The manufacturers are Honeyrose, and they make a wide range of flavours. You might find the menthol best, even if you don’t normally smoke menthol cigarettes. They also make a hand-rolling mixture, and this is also good for rolling joints without tobacco.
Where to get it -
Any health food shop, especially Holland and Barrett.
Or visit www.honeyrose.co.uk
10. Books ...
Reading a book is always a good idea if you are about to tackle a problem, but reading a book is not likely to solve the problem for you. Think about a car manual; it will help you to repair your car, but it won’t repair the car for you. We always recommend reading a good book on the subject first, whichever method you are going to use. For advice on books click here.
11. Miscellaneous ...
We’ve included these therapies and products because this section would not be complete if we didn’t mention them, but we leave you to make your own judgment.
Bioresonance: This claims to detoxify the body of nicotine and so speed up the process of stopping.
Nicobrevin: This product has lost its licence in the UK due to uncompetitive action by the pharmaceutical industry whose market it threatened. We are not allowed to recommend it, for this reason, but if you search for it on the web you will see it can be ordered from other countries.
Electric cigarettes: These are often called ‘electronic’ cigarettes, which is a complete misnomer. The product is electric, not electronic. It is a delivery method for hot nicotine to the body, by means of electricity (supplied by a small battery), which heats a nicotine cartridge.
It is therefore, by definition, a nicotine replacement product. It is not usually referred to as such, because it does not have a product licence which permits it to be sold for medicinal purposes.
On this page you will find enough information about each stop-smoking method to help you to make a decision about which to use. You will also see how to get further information and how to get the product or therapy you choose.