Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quit smoking pills

There is a whole raft of quit smoking pills available on the market these days. Most of them are advertised as being a 'cure-all' for your woes as a smoker and will alleviate all of your concerns about quitting smoking. They come in two main forms - pharmaceutical types made by the big drug companies or 'snake oil' types made from 'magic' ingredients. However, I have my doubts about the need for pills at all.

Unfortunately, smokers are a pretty desperate bunch when it comes to trying to quit and anyone offering quit smoking pills has got a fair chance of making a sale. Having said that, one of my own edicts for people trying to quit smoking is to just keep trying and try as many methods as you can until you succeed.

Why do I advocate such a stance you may ask? Well, whether it be through sheer willpower, quit smoking pills, hypnosis, acupuncture, laser treatment or my own cognitive behavioural therapy approach, the benefits of quitting smoking are just so extensive, I implore all smokers to keep trying to quit.

I know most smokers are reluctant to spend money on products to help them quit, but from a logical point of view, it makes a lot of sense. Spending money on products may seem tedious but even if it costs $1000 to find 'the cure' that works for you, it is still less than half of a years smoking costs. And you get all the benefits of quitting smoking which are worth years of extra life!

However, whilst I think smokers should persist in finding 'a cure' that works, I am somewhat reluctant to recommend using medication and 'herbal' remedies. Why is this?

Well, smoking is an addiction to nicotine and smokers only smoke cigarettes to get at the nicotine. Despite cigarette smoke being so toxic, smokers are 'conditioned' to enjoy smoking because of the nicotine buzz that comes with it. The cigarette is not pleasurable at all, but the nicotine is because of the way it has established itself as a part of a smoker's brain chemistry.

Quit smoking pills are generally thought to interfere with the brain chemistry in smokers heads. Brain chemistry in smokers is different from that in non-smokers and that is why smokers smoke. Their brain chemistry is different, and it was made different by smoking! It is a chicken and egg, egg and chicken kind of thing!

The pharmaceutical quit smoking pills most commonly known to aid in quitting smoking are Zyban and Chantix. Zyban is also traded as wellbutrin or bupropion and Chantix is also marketed as Champix and varenicline.

Whilst the exact processes that go on to discourage smoking with these products are not known, there is obviously some activity because both Zyban and Chantix are known to improve a smoker's ability to quit smoking. The downside is that they also have side effects, as is common with many pharmaceutical drugs. Zyban and Chantix should only be considered after consultation with your doctor.

The effectiveness of both of these drugs has been studied extensively although as drug companies fund drug studies, there is a pre-disposition to find in favour of the effectiveness. Despite the pharmacological effects these drugs have, they are always prescribed alongside some form of counselling or advice. If they were capable of achieving great results without the support, I would believe in them - but they do not work without counselling help.

Alternative quit smoking pills are marketed on the internet and elsewhere. These generally make lurid claims about their effectiveness at quitting smoking. They are often described as herbal remedies and may contain 'proprietary' substances. This in my opinion, is all snake oil!

Again, like the pharmaceutical quit smoking pills available, snake oil solutions are sold with quit smoking guides to change the way you think about your relationship with cigarettes. This is the crux of quitting smoking though. People think they need a pill or a magic potion to achieve their goal but they don't. I believe people just need to focus their minds on the problem at hand and they can overcome it.

If you start out trying to quit smoking thinking that you need the support of a drug, you already think that quitting smoking requires 'outside help'. It doesn't. If you stop thinking it is going to be difficult to quit smoking, do you realise it just might be a bit easier to quit?

Finally, whichever method you use to quit smoking, my most important piece of advice is that if a 'solution' fails, try something else. There are over 50 ways of quitting smoking and quit smoking pills is just one of them. Never stop trying to quit.

Why do people try to quit smoking before they know how to quit smoking? Pete Howells is the author of the EasyQuit System available only online at . He also blogs and post articles and videos at and at