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Quitting Smoking in NZ: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Quitting Smoking in New Zealand

Quitting Smoking in NZ: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Vaping is one of a number of quit-smoking aids available today. In this article we’ll attempt to provide a balanced overview to help you quit smoking.

As you likely know, it is our nation’s goal to eliminate virtually all smoking within New Zealand by 2025. In laying out a plan to achieve that goal, the Ministry of Health determined that Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 would be on track to succeed if the country could get its smoking rate below 10 percent by 2018.

That, unfortunately, didn’t happen. As of 2018, Stats NZ reports that New Zealand’s smoking rate is at 13.2 percent. The represents a significant decrease from the 15.1 percent smoking rate reported in 2013, but it shows that we aren’t maintaining the pace necessary to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal.

That’s one of the reasons why our government did its best to regulate the vaping industry in a way that would allow vaping products to remain available, affordable and appealing for smokers. Tens of millions of former smokers around the world have quit with the help of vaping, and a significant percentage of those people had already tried to quit with traditional nicotine replacement therapies – and failed – before e-cigarettes came along. The fact is that encouraging smokers to switch to vaping represents our most realistic chance to eliminate tobacco use in New Zealand by 2025.

Here at Premium Vape, it is our mission to provide adult smokers with an appealing and affordable variety of vaping products and to help as many people as possible give smoking up for good with the help of vaping. Vaping is only one of the many quit-smoking aids that you have at your disposal, though, and in this article, we’ll attempt to provide a balanced overview of everything that’s available to help you quit smoking in New Zealand.

Quitting Smoking in New Zealand: Free Counselling Service

Quitline is a public stop-smoking service that’s available to every person in New Zealand for free. To contact Quitline, all that you need to do is call 0800 778 778 or text 4006. An advisor will talk you through the process of quitting smoking and will provide some advice that can help. Quitline will also send you a free Quitcard, which you can use to purchase subsidized nicotine replacement products from your local pharmacy or directly through Quitline for as little as $5 for a one-month supply.

Quitline isn’t just a great way to receive discounted nicotine replacement products; studies have also shown that counselling can greatly increase your odds of quitting smoking successfully, regardless of the stop-smoking method that you choose. Although Quitline doesn’t provide subsidised vaping products, the organisation does provide counselling services for people who are quitting smoking with vaping.

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

The first e-cigarettes began to reach markets around the world in the late 2000s, and as mentioned above, there are now tens of millions of people who have successfully used e-cigarettes to quit smoking. An e-cigarette simulates the flavours, sensations and physical rituals of smoking by using a heating element to vaporize a flavoured, nicotine-infused liquid for inhaling. When you inhale the vapour, you absorb the nicotine through your lungs. When you exhale, you see a cloud that looks like smoke.

No other form of nicotine replacement mimics smoking as closely as vaping. In addition, nicotine that you inhale reaches your bloodstream much more quickly than nicotine absorbed through the mouth or skin. So, in addition to its other benefits – such as the wide variety of different e-liquid flavours – vaping is the only form of nicotine replacement that feels as satisfying as smoking. Click this link to learn more about what it’s like to quit smoking by switching to vaping.

Can e-cigarettes really help you quit smoking? A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019 provides one answer. The study used 886 participants who requested smoking cessation help through the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and the participants were randomly divided into two groups. The people in one group were given traditional nicotine replacement products, and the people in the other group were given e-cigarettes. All participants were also provided counselling services for four weeks, and then all participants were checked after one year to see if they had abstained from smoking or not.

Of those who reported for the one-year check-up, 18 percent of those who had received e-cigarettes were still tobacco free. Of the participants who received traditional nicotine replacement products, just 9.9 percent were still tobacco free.

It isn’t easy to quit smoking regardless of the cessation aid that you choose. No matter what, you’ll still have to go through an adjustment period that might be a bit uncomfortable for a few days. However, the study above suggests that e-cigarettes – especially when combined with counselling – can be nearly twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement in helping you quit smoking.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

For many years, traditional nicotine replacement therapy was the only viable option for those who wanted to quit smoking and needed medical intervention. A nicotine replacement product delivers a steady low-dose supply of nicotine to the bloodstream – usually through the skin or oral mucosa – that helps to make cravings easier to tolerate when quitting. The most common types of nicotine replacement products include nicotine gums, lozenges and patches, all of which are available over the counter in New Zealand. As the study cited above suggests, traditional nicotine therapy has a success rate of about 9.9 percent when combined with counselling. Nicotine replacement therapy is also known to have a very good safety profile, and since nicotine products are available with government subsidies, they may be the least expensive of all quit-smoking aids.

Nicotine inhalers are also available in New Zealand by prescription. Some people find nicotine inhalers more satisfying than traditional nicotine replacement therapies since inhalation allows the nicotine to absorb almost instantly rather than in a time-release fashion as with oral nicotine products. However, it must also be said that nicotine inhalers aren’t terribly different from e-cigarettes aside from the fact that a nicotine inhaler uses air pressure rather than heat to atomize the nicotine solution. A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research in 2006 found that nicotine inhalers were 8-percent effective in helping smokers abstain from tobacco for 15 months. In comparison, a placebo was 1-percent effective.

Prescription Medications for Smoking Cessation

In addition to traditional nicotine replacement therapies, there are also two non-nicotine prescription-based medications that may help you quit smoking. Those medications are Zyban (buproprion hydrochloride) and Chantix (varenicline tartrate).

The two medications work differently. Chantix is the first prescription drug developed specifically as a smoking cessation aid. It works by blocking the body’s nicotine receptors, thus reducing the pleasure derived from smoking. Zyban is an antidepressant that aids in smoking cessation by reducing cravings and easing withdrawal symptoms. Like most prescription medications, Chantix and Zyban both carry some risk of side effects. It’s important to consult closely with a doctor when taking either drug and to read all of the included paperwork and warnings.

In 2009, Harm Reduction Journal published a systematic review examining the effectiveness of Chantix, Zyban and traditional nicotine replacement therapy for short-term smoking cessation of at least four weeks. In all, the researchers compiling the review used data from clinical trials with more than 40,000 participants. The review concluded that nicotine replacement therapy, Chantix and Zyban are all more effective than a placebo in helping people quit smoking. However, Zyban is more effective than nicotine replacement, and Chantix is more effective than Zyban.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a practice originating from traditional Chinese medicine in which tiny needles are inserted into the body to provide stimulation to specific points. Although acupuncture has been practiced for more than 2,000 years, there is no conclusive clinical evidence to prove that it actually works. Nevertheless, it certainly has helped some people quit smoking. A study published in Preventative Medicine in 2001 followed 46 volunteers who randomly received one of two types of acupuncture treatment. The first group received stimulation of the acupoints that are thought to encourage smoking cessation, and the second group received ordinary acupuncture treatment. The study found the following:

  • The group receiving therapeutic acupuncture treatment for smoking cessation reduced their smoking by an average of 14 cigarettes per day.
  • The group receiving standard acupuncture treatment reduced their smoking by an average of 7 cigarettes per day.
  • The group receiving therapeutic acupuncture treatment continued to smoke fewer cigarettes during the five-year monitoring period.
  • The group receiving standard acupuncture treatment didn’t continue smoking fewer cigarettes during the monitoring period.
  • Those receiving therapeutic acupuncture treatment reported that the treatment reduced their desire to smoke and that it made cigarettes taste bad.
Herbal Supplements

Two herbs are used fairly frequently to aid in smoking cessation; those herbs are ginseng and St. John’s wort. Both herbs are thought by some to reduce cigarette cravings, thus encouraging smoking cessation.

In 2010, the journal Neuropsychopharmacology published an animal study examining ginseng’s potential as a smoking cessation aid. In the study, it was found that ginseng decreased the nicotine-induced release of dopamine. The study would therefore seem to suggest that ginseng reduces the pleasure derived from smoking and can thus encourage quitting.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study in 2010 examining the effectiveness of St. John’s wort as an aid for smoking cessation. In the study, 118 volunteers were randomly given St. John’s wort or a placebo. Of the 118 participants, 43 percent dropped out before the study was completed. The study found no evidence that St. John’s wort helps with quitting smoking. However, a 2006 study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine produced different results. In that study, nine out of 24 participants who were given St. John’s wort did quit smoking successfully for at least 12 weeks.

Homeopathic Medications

Homeopathy is a form of medicine based on the idea that a substance that would induce a particular symptom in a healthy person can alleviate that same symptom if administered in an extremely dilute form. Homeopathic compounds are often so diluted, in fact, that as far as laboratory analyses are concerned, they contain nothing at all. Studies have repeatedly failed to find any evidence that homeopathic medications are more effective than placebos, and yet, homeopathy has experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past several decades.

If you decide to seek homeopathic treatment for smoking cessation, you should consider having a consultation with a practitioner. There are many homeopathic medications claimed to help people quit smoking, and you may experience a better result with a treatment plan tailored to your needs. In addition, the simple act of consulting with a caregiver may increase your odds of success.

Hypnotherapy

During hypnotherapy, a practitioner uses relaxation techniques to induce a brain state in which your subconscious mind becomes susceptible to suggestion. After placing you in a state of hypnosis, the practitioner places suggestions in your mind intended to either empower you to quit or reduce your desire to smoke.

In 2019, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published a review of available medical literature studying the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. The review included 14 clinical studies with a total of 1,926 participants. The researchers who compiled the review were unable to find evidence that hypnotherapy provides a greater benefit to smoking cessation than no treatment at all. However, the researchers also noted that hypnotherapy appears to have no adverse effects and that the topic merits larger and higher-quality studies.

We hope this information helps give you some ideas about the many different quit smoking aids that can form part of a smoking cessation program. Please note the information provided here should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice; always talk to your doctor or a health professional. Premium Vape does not endorse or recommend any of the approaches discussed in this article and will not be held responsible for any loss, claim or damage arising out of the use, or misuse, of the suggestions made, the failure to take medical advice or for any material on third party websites.