Updated 24 August 2015

The 5 most common smoking alternatives

Trying to find an alternative method to quit smoking? Here are the five most common.


Quitting smoking can be hard, and most people who try quitting cold turkey tend to fail. If this method doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps it’s time to try something else.

Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence that alternative methods to quit smoking are effective, there are many people who have successfully quit using these methods.

These are the five most common alternative methods to quit smoking:

1. Acupuncture: This ancient therapy is used for many things, one of which is smoking cessation. And while the jury is still out on whether it works for everyone, studies have shown that for many smokers it is a viable option.

2. Laser therapy: This treatment uses low-intensity light or cold lasers, to stimulate points on the body, similar to acupuncture. The aim of the light is to stimulate chemicals in the brain known as endorphins which imitate the “relaxing” effect nicotine has on the brain. However there is not much research supporting the success of this alternative.

3. Hypnotherapy: Hypnosis refers to an altered state of awareness in which the subject appears to be in a trance and is more susceptible to suggestion or psychological manipulation. Hypnotherapy methods to stop smoking usually try to lessen one’s desire for cigarettes or help you stay focused on a stop smoking programme.  

4. Herbal cigarettes: Herbal cigarettes typically contain no tobacco and therefore no nicotine, which is why many believe they are a safe alternative to tobacco. However in terms of health, they are just as harmful as cigarettes as they release toxins when burned. Some herbal cigarettes are known as “bidis” and “clove cigarettes”, although these do contain tobacco and are generally unfiltered which means they contain more nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. If you’re trying to quit smoking, these are probably the worst option available.

5. Electronic cigarettes: These are marketed as less harmful alternatives to smoking and have grown in popularity as access to them has spread. Although there is still much controversy surrounding them, current research indicates that they are less harmful than traditional cigarette smoking for smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes. 

Read more:

7 natural techniques to help you quit smoking

How South Africans quit smoking

Are you ready to quit smoking?

Sources: WebMD - Hypnosis for quitting; ICanQuit - Alternative smoking methods; NCBI - Effect of acupuncture on smoking cessation or reduction;NCBI - Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review


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