If you’re thinking about quitting smoking, it’s important to know what products are available to help you do so. While there may be new products on the market claiming that they can help you kick your cigarette habit for good, have you personally looked into the options? Are you considering trying e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)? It’s important to understand everything you can about the product you’re considering using and what it’s designed to do, so we’re here to help take the guesswork out of the equation and help you understand more about the difference between e-cigarettes and NRT products like Nicorette.
What Are Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products, and How Do They Work?
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) does exactly what its name says: it replaces nicotine in your system that was originally coming from cigarettes in small, controlled doses. Nicotine in tobacco is what causes individuals to become addicted to smoking. NRT provides individuals with nicotine — generally in the form of gum, patches, or lozenges — but without the harmful chemicals that you’d get in a cigarette. Think of a product like Nicorette, for example, that comes in gum and lozenge form, or NicoDerm CQ, which comes in patch form. These smoking-cessation products can help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms over time, which may increase chances of quitting. Medical experts believe that NRT is “one of the most helpful tools smokers can use to quit,” according to SmokeFree.Gov.
It’s important to also know that smoking-cessation products are also FDA-approved. As defined by the FDA, “FDA approval of a drug means that data on the drug’s effects have been reviewed by CDER [Center for Drug Evaluation and Research], and the drug is determined to provide benefits that outweigh its known and potential risks for the intended population.”
The FDA approval process is an intense one, which can take years to complete. The process is not only designed to ensure that a drug or medication works properly, but also to inform both doctors and patients how to use said drug or medication safely and correctly.
What Are E-Cigarettes, and What Are They Made For?
E-cigarettes (e-cigs), also known as an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), have been on the market for about 11 years. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings, and other chemicals.” And did you know that the leading e-cig brands are actually owned by the major tobacco companies?
Some individuals turn to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, but there is currently limited evidence from research to show that e-cigarettes are an effective way to help smokers quit. In fact, e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as an aid to quit smoking.
One of the biggest issues with e-cigarettes is that the chemicals, while possibly fewer than those found in actual cigarettes, aren’t often revealed or known, and therefore may be harmful to individuals. As of Deember 10, 2019, there have been 2,409 recent cases of lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, including 52 deaths*. E-cigs are not FDA-approved as a quit-smoking aid. And in fact, in September 2019, it was announced that “the FDA intends to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks that would prioritize the agency’s enforcement of the premarket authorization requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, clearing the market of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products.” Many states have taken action on their own as well, including Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Montana, Washington, Utah, Oregon, and California.
NRT vs. E-Cigs
How do NRT products stack up against e-cigarettes? Well, here are some of the key differences between smoking-cessation products and e-cigs.
- Are FDA-approved to help you quit
- Have a history of helping smokers quit, double patient’s chances
- Have a well-established safety profile
- Offer added bonus of behavioral support
- Are available in multiple formats to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual, including patch, gum, and lozenge
- Are doctor recommended
- Deliver a controlled dose of nicotine
- Help with difficult withdrawal symptoms
- Relieve cravings
- Are not FDA-approved tools for quitting
- Have no conclusive evidence to support their effectiveness in helping smokers quit
- May contain carcinogenic, toxic chemicals
- May contain toxic metal nanoparticles
- May be less harmful than regular cigarettes but can still lead to nicotine addiction and other health issues
How to Quit Smoking Cigarettes
While e-cigarettes may be less harmful than regular cigarettes, this does not mean they are harmless. There is still a lot to be learned about them and their overall health effects. If you’re looking to quit smoking cigarettes, it’s best to choose a proven and effective method, such as NRT, like Nicorette, which has been helping individuals to quit smoking for more than 20 years. Start by speaking with your doctor today about creating a plan to help you quit smoking.
* These numbers are updated every Thursday by the CDC. To check on the most up-to-date numbers, please visit the CDC’s website here.