1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement products can help smokers overcome what is often the hardest part quitting – the physical addiction. There are lots of different types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT):

  • Gum
  • Patches
  • Inhalators
  • Microtabs
  • Lozenges
  • Nasal Spray

NRT doubles someone's chances of giving up successfully by helping to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Because the nicotine enters the body differently to cigarettes, it's much less addictive. Also, NRT does not contain tar, poisons or carbon monoxide the way cigarettes do, so it doesn't cause cancer.

It's suitable for most adults, but if the smoker has a heart or circulatory condition, or is on regular medication, they should seek advise from their doctor. Likewise if the smoker is pregnant, she should consult a doctor.

2. Quitting without medical aids - "Cold Turkey"

This method requires tremendous will power and strength of mind - it involves setting a date to give up and then not smoking from that day onwards. This is probably the most popular and quickest method to kick the habit, but the success rate is only around 3%.

People who have managed to quit "cold turkey" style will generally feel a real sense of pride and achievement. This method is extremely safe, as no other chemicals or drugs are involved, and of course the cheapest! But it is tough and generally only suits strong-minded quitters who are completely motivated and determined to succeed.

3. Cutting Down

Attempting to stop smoking by reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day is another popular method, with the ultimate goal being to quit altogether. And, as many ex-smokers will testify, it is possible.

Across 19 studies that looked at the effects of cutting back, participants in 16 of them benefitted by taking the next step and giving up entirely, according to research conducted by the University of Vermont.

However, research also shows that cutting down is only useful as a step on the way to giving up cigarettes entirely and provides no health benefits in itself.

Alternative therapies

Some people claim to be helped by alternative therapies. However, the results of research are not clear, so overall their effectiveness remains unproven. The two most popular forms are hypnotherapy and acupuncture. If you decide to try alternative therapy, it is important to find a registered practitioner.

4. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is literally therapy done while in hypnosis and can be thought of as an effective and speedy form of psychotherapy. It can change patterns of behaviour and perceptions, enabling irrational fears, phobias, habits, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome.

There aren’t many good studies evaluating the effectiveness of hypnosis on quitting smoking. One study showed that 23 percent of people who were hypnotized weren’t smoking 6 months later. But according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, the rates drop off dramatically by about one year. The bottom line is we don’t know if hypnosis works in the long run.

It is believed that the success rate will depend on the techniques used by the hypnotherapist, which vary as there is no standardized procedure, as well as the desire for the smoker to stop smoking.

Hollywood celebrities Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Ellen Degeneres, Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore have all used hypnosis to stop smoking.

5. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that originates from China and has been used in Chinese medicine for about 2000 -3000 years. Acupuncture treatments focus on the jitters, the cravings, the irritability, and the restlessness that people commonly complain about when they quit. It can also aid in relaxation and detoxification.

So how does it work? Well, very fine needles are inserted into the skin at various points that are thought to affect the smoking related areas of the body and remain there for around half an hour. The needles are then removed and two tiny needles are inserted into the earlobes and left there. When the smoker has an urge to smoke, he touches the earlobe and the craving is supposed to subside, as the needle stimulates a part of the body that helps to reduce these cravings.

Success rates vary from study to study. This method is not generally believed to be a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking. But, acupuncture can be effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free.