Quitting Smoking – Trading One Bad Habit For Another

By: Bel Marra Health | Heart Attack and Stroke | Thursday, March 01, 2012 - 01:44 AM

Quitting SmokingWith all of the research showing the negative health effects of cigarette smoking, many people are turning to cigarette alternatives to help kick their habit. But, could using cigarette alternatives just be exchanging one bad habit for another?

There are nicotine replacement therapies such as the patch or gum that are supposed to help a smoker gradually kick the habit. However, there are some smokers that just don’t want to quit.  They’re addicted, not only to the nicotine, but to the routine that smoking provides them with.  They enjoy their cigarette with their morning coffee or their evening drink, they feel more relaxed when they smoke and they genuinely love the act of smoking.  For those individuals, there are a number of alternatives that have been developed and marketed to them.  The question is, are these alternatives safe?  Research shows that perhaps they aren’t….

Electronic Cigarettes

Tobacco cigarettes are known to have nicotine as well as over 4,000 toxins, some that are known to cause cancer among other health conditions including heart disease.  Just like tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes also contain nicotine.  They work using an atomizer that heats the liquid that contains the nicotine.  The heated liquid turns into a vapour that is inhaled, a cloud of smoke is also produced, similar to traditional cigarettes.  Manufacturers of e-cigarettes have made claims that this product is a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes, providing the same look and feel of a regular cigarette.  However, the Food and Drug Administration found that two major brands of e-cigarettes had varying amounts of nicotine as well as traces of toxins and some known cancer-causing agents in them.  The FDA has advised that e-cigarettes are not necessarily a safe alternative and precaution should be taken before using them.

Smokeless Tobacco (including: chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, dissolvable tobacco, etc.)

Smokeless tobacco products are products that are generally chewed, sniffed or sucked on as opposed to being smoked. Some people feel that smokeless tobacco is less harmful than smoking tobacco.  While it may be slightly safer, it comes with its’ own serious health problems.   Smokeless tobacco also contains approximately 30 toxins, including cancer-causing substances as well as nicotine.  Some of the negative health effects of smokeless tobacco include:

–              Addiction – in addition to the toxins in smokeless tobacco, it also contains high levels of nicotine which is highly addictive

–              Cancer – some of the toxins in smokeless tobacco are known cancer-causing agents

–              Gum disease and pre-cancerous mouth lesions

–              Heart disease – long term use increases the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke

If you are a smoker, don’t turn to smokeless tobacco to help you quit.  In addition to all of the health problems mentioned above, there is no evidence that shows that using smokeless tobacco will help you to quit.


Many people feel that smoking cigars is a safe alternative to smoking tobacco because you “don’t inhale”.  Don’t be fooled…smoking cigars is not any healthier for you.  Just like tobacco cigarettes, cigars contain many toxins, including some cancer-causing agents.  Here are some of the negative health effects of smoking cigars:

–              Addiction – cigars contain high levels of the highly addictive substance, nicotine

–              Cancer –  cigars also contain numerous cancer-causing toxins

–              Cardiovascular disease – regular cigar smoking increases your risk of heart disease

–              Gum disease

Additionally, because cigars are smoked, they create second-hand smoke, just like conventional cigarettes.  This second-hand smoke exposes other people to all of the toxins that are found in the cigar.  By smoking cigars, you are not only increasing your risk of serious health problems, you are also increasing the cancer and heart disease risk of individuals around you. Additionally, cigars are generally smoked for a longer period of time which means that the toxins are in the air for an extended period of time.

As can be seen, switching from traditional cigarette smoking to an alternative option isn’t a safer option.  All of the alternatives contain nicotine and toxins and have risks associated with them. Not only do all of the alternatives increase your cancer risk, they increase your risk of developing heart disease.  Heart disease can result in potentially fatal conditions including heart attacks.  If you are lucky to survive a heart attack you will likely be admitted to a cardiac care unit within the hospital. Once released from the hospital, you will have to undergo cardiac care in a rehabilitation setting.  Because our health care system is over-burdened, wait times for cardiac care programs can be quite lengthy which can negatively affect your recovery.  Even after under-going cardiac care rehabilitation, you may still have lingering heart problems -cardiac care is not guaranteed to fix your heart completely.

If you put down a tobacco cigarette and pick up one of these alternative options, you are virtually putting down one bad habit and picking up another.  The best thing to do is to quit smoking all together.

Related Reading: Can e-cigarettes really help you stop smoking?

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