People think that to quit smoking, all they need to do is to replace the nicotine provided by the cigarette. There are a number of products on the market, many over the counter, that give an ample supply of replacement nicotine. However, they aren’t very effective. The reason people continue to smoke is due to the Psychological Smoking Mechanism, not a need for nicotine.
In this article, we will look at some research on the effectiveness of nicotine patches and gum.
The Nicotine Model of Smoking
Back in the 1990’s, nicotine got labeled as a highly addictive substance. It was blamed for the reason people find it hard to quit smoking. Yet, cigarette smoking does not fit the definition of a chemical addiction.
In the nicotine model, craving nicotine is what keeps a person smoking. It followed that if nicotine could be provided from a source other than cigarettes, the smoker would not crave cigarettes. Thus, the person would quit smoking cigarettes by replacing the source of nicotine with a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Then, the new source of nicotine could be gradually reduced over time until the smoker’s “addiction” to nicotine was removed.
This would be a nice, simple solution if nicotine was the real driving force to smoke cigarettes. However, if there is some other reason people smoke, such as the Psychological Smoking Mechanism, supplying nicotine will not be an effective substitute. Let’s look at some research on the effectiveness of nicotine patches and gum.
Two products that follow the chemical addiction model of cigarette smoking are nicotine patches and nicotine gum. They are superb products and do just what they say; they give a very ample supply of nicotine. Since the smoker is getting generous amounts of nicotine, which they are supposedly craving, the patches should be incredibly effective and remove the desire for a cigarette. But how effective are they?
Some research shows, (Davidson, M., Epstein, M., Burt, R., Schaefer, C., Whitworth, G. & McDonald, A. (1998)), only 19% of people on nicotine patches had stopped smoking at six weeks and it was reduced to 9.2% at six months. Looking at it another way, at 6 weeks, 81% of the people using nicotine patches were still smoking and at 6 months, about 91% were still smoking. Yes, 10% of those that had stopped were back at it again.
The results for the gum was about the same. Even though the gum was providing the smoker with plenty of nicotine, at 6 weeks, 84% of the people were still smoking and at 6 months, 92% were smoking.
The research showed that the 8% – 9% of the people who had quit smoking using the nicotine patches and gum were highly motivated to quit smoking! In other words, they were removing their Psychological Smoking Mechanism.
A Real Life Example
A radio host was interviewing me about the Psychological Smoking Mechanism and in the course of the interview he told me that he was an ex-smoker. He said he had used nicotine gum to quit and it had taken him two years until he was finally off of cigarettes. TWO YEARS!
Think about that for a moment. The nicotine gum was providing a large supply of nicotine just as it is designed to do. Yet, this man was smoking AND chewing the nicotine gum. In other words, the gum, loaded with nicotine was not substituting for the cigarette as it theoretical should have done.
Since the man wanted to quit, he finally stopped after two years. But it wasn’t the gum, it was him changing his Psychological Smoking Mechanism without even realizing consciously what he was doing. Just like the 8% – 9% of the people in the research study mentioned above.
Nicotine is Not the Motivator to Smoke
The amount of nicotine a smoker gets in one cigarette is very small. Compare the cigarette to your body mass; it’s tiny and so is the amount of nicotine it contains.
However, these very effective nicotine dispensing products, nicotine patches and gum are loaded with nicotine. That’s what they are designed to do; put adequate nicotine into the smokers system to, theoretically at least, replace the need to smoke a cigarette. However, most smokers have adverse reactions to these products because they are getting more nicotine than they ever did smoking. What does all this extra nicotine do?
According to the American Lung Association, side effects with the nicotine patch are: ejuice
- Upset stomach
- Blurred vision
- Vivid dreams
- Mild itching and burning on the skin
Yes, nicotine does have an effect on the smokers body. However, with all the things that smoking does to the smoker, it doesn’t produce the effects mentioned by the American Lung Association. This is another clue that nicotine is not the motivator to smoke.
If you go by the nicotine model to quit smoking, you are going to be disappointed. The only way to quit smoking is to remove the Psychological Smoking Mechanism by using proven, psychological techniques. When the mechanism is gone, so is smoking.