When my partner wanted to quit, she complained that all the “healthy smoking alternatives” she came across sucked.
Before giving recommendations, I asked about her goals:
- Smooth mornings?
- Feeling buzzed?
- Stress reduction?
- New habit?
You can get each, and a few alternatives offer all.
In this article, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about tobacco, my top cigarette smoking alternatives, and a few simple strategies to mitigate the damage should you continue the habit.
The Truth About Tobacco
People often use nicotine and tobacco interchangeably. Nicotine is just one active ingredient in tobacco.
Recent science has implicated tobacco in all kinds of conditions and degenerative diseases.
A large part of that damage comes from everything else that’s added. From the heavy metals present in the soil it’s grown, to the radioactive fertilizer, to the way it gets dried and cured, to thousands of additional chemicals intentionally added. Nasty toxic chemicals.
According to an old 2010 report, 7,000+ chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic, and 70+ known to cause cancer. Worst of all, the deleterious interactions of these chemicals haven’t been studied in humans.
Yet tobacco grown in nature has very different properties and health effects from what comes packaged within commercial cigarettes and cigars.
Since medical tobacco is hard to procure, it’s prudent to ween off the habit.
An Alternative For Every Reason to Smoke
Why do you smoke?
Your ideal alternative depends on what you’re seeking.
For many, it’s the habituated euphoric rush of energy, mental clarity, stress relief, focus, and digestive smoothness. Combined with ritual.
Most alternatives fall into a few categories:
- Inhaling other herbals
- Taking nootropics
- Consuming herbals
Up first is the product that I’ve seen get the best, longest-lasting results while simultaneously improving your health.
Best Overall: Fum Essential Oils
If the thought of essential oils conjures up images of shady snake oil salesmen, I understand. After reading a 200+ page book specifically on oregano essential oil, I decided to give it a shot. And I immediately burnt my tongue with just one drop.
I discovered a company called Füm that makes a wooden essential oil inhalation “pipe”. I use this device to give me a hit of energy with peppermint and citrus oils. Or to improve my memory with rosemary and clove. To unwind with frankincense and lavender. Since its debut, Füm has quickly become the top product to replace smoking.
Key to their success is the Quit Smoking blend of oils. Black Pepper essential oil is well-studied to satisfy nicotine withdrawals, provide a similar mouth feel, and help people quit.
You get the form factor of a pipe which satisfies the habit of smoking, with effective smoking cessation power and the health benefits of plant aromatherapy.
Learn more in my Füm aromatherapy review or use the code URBAN10 to save 10%.
Best For Focus: Quality Nootropics
Nootropics are a special category of supplements that safely make the brain work more efficiently and effectively. Either via neuroprotection, increased blood flow, or increased oxygenation of the brain.
If you smoke for energy or the mental benefits like stress relief, focus, or to relax, nootropics may be the healthy alternative you’re seeking.
Different products accomplish different effects. Everything from increasing energy and athletic performance, to enhancing creativity, to boosting social confidence.
The best part?
Even once you stop taking them, your brain continues to function at a higher level.
Popular nootropic ingredients to quit smoking include:
- Rhodiola Rosea
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
The first four on this list are my favorite. Nootropics properly formulated to aid smoking cessation should include multiple of these ingredients.
Click here to learn more about nootropics, how they can help you gain a healthy mental edge, and using them to replace smoking.
Cleaner Alternative: Nicotine Gum & Other Products
Nicotine gum is a tried-and-true way to quit smoking. It provides a dose of the main bioactive active ingredient that’s both responsible for many of the effects and also the addictive properties of smoking.
Proponents claim that nicotine gum helps ween off tobacco. 60+ percent of quitters fail when they attempt to stop cold turkey. Leading to frustration and feeling disempowered. By reprogramming the neurobiological nicotine pathway with a different source, gum sometimes works great. But there are a few glaring issues.
It tackles one of the physiological components of smoking, without addressing the underlying habit. The sensory ritual of physically grabbing a cigarette plays a major role. Plus, nicotine is but one of many ingredients responsible for the characteristic buzz. Finally, most nicotine gums contain a bunch of other undesirable chemicals.
If you decide to try nicotine products, you’ll want something high-quality and pure. I sometimes use Lucy gum, pouches, or lozenges.
Although conventional tobacco and clean, high-quality organic tobacco may appear the same, the contents are a world apart.
Properly grown, processed, and cured tobacco does not contain chemical additives or other adulterants that add a massive burden to the body.
Additionally, vaporization keeps the temperature low enough to prevent the toxins produced by the extreme heat of combustion.
Vaporizing tobacco may not be as healthy as something like aromatherapy, but it is a far lower impact way to enjoy a similar feeling to smoking but with minimal harm. Plus, it’s considerably more efficient and economical than smoking.
Vaping can also be used as a transition to quitting tobacco completely.
Note that this is very different from the popular vapes that contain (often flavored) nicotine salts.
All it requires is a nice vaporizer, and some real, good organic tobacco.
Vaporize Other Herbs
Several companies have formulated special “quit smoking naturally” blends safe for inhalation.
Vaporization is one of my favorite technologies to replace smoking because you get healthy bioactive molecules. Intact, since they are not exposed to the extreme heat of a flame.
The mouth feel of vapor is the next closest thing to smoke.
Plus, vaporization generates fewer toxic byproducts, making it far less toxic to the body.
Top botanicals and herbs to vape include:
- Lemon Balm
- Ginger Root
- Raspberry Leaf
Be sure to look up the properties of the herb to match your goal.
While more and more companies seem to offer this, I’ve tried and prefer one brand.
If everything on this list seems like too big of a jump, rolling your own herbal cigarettes can ease your transition.
Herbal cigarettes give you the full smoking experience, with less toxicity and a different, light buzz.
This is one of my favorite options, and here’s why…
Heavy smokers can cut their tobacco with the herbs listed previously. Not only does this lead to more pleasurable smoking, but you can use it to cut back on nicotine without sacrifice. Over time, completely replacing tobacco with herbals.
Eventually, switching away from smoking altogether.
To start, get the herbs (or blends) from the Vaporize Other Herbs section, and use them when rolling your cigarettes.
I constantly hear success stories of people using herbal cigarettes to completely quit (with minimal discomfort).
Ancient humans had more than alcohol and tobacco at their disposal.
In fact, for thousands of years, cultures around the world praised other plant-derived medicines ahead of both.
Two, in particular, are especially interesting. For three reasons.
First, they give you a pleasant, clearheaded buzz. Second, they regenerate regions of the brain associated with addiction. Third, they have other health benefits.
My favorites (in order) are:
I trust only two companies to make high-quality, safe, and effective formulations of these herbals.
The first is Feel Free, which offers shots containing both kava and kratom. The second is TRU KAVA. They sell kava in the form of an oil, shot, and canned beverage. TRU KAVA has two separate lines of products. One product more for mental enhancement and one best suited for relaxation, socializing and boosting mood.
I’ll be honest, incense is a weak addition to this list of healthy smoking alternatives.
It doesn’t provide a buzz, it usually contains a variety of chemicals and scent agents, and is an imperfect smoking substitute.
However, if you enjoy and crave the smell of cigarettes, incense may help you begin to break free from tobacco.
Especially if you pair these aromas with something desirable. A favorite food, fun activity, spending time with a close friend, etc.
This helps you create a new neural association between the scent and feeling good.
Because it fills the area around you with smoke, I’d recommend only ritualizing incense at the beginning of your quitting journey.
Replace Smoking With These Healthier Alternatives
Smoking doesn’t make you a bad person, and you’re certainly not alone in the habit.
Archeological records suggest that humans have smoked tobacco for over 12,000 years.
Yet despite heavy use, smoking-related illnesses were rare and median life expectancy was similar (when adjusting for infant mortality).
A modern cigarette, cigar, or even pipe tobacco today contains thousands of chemical additives, the interaction of which remains unstudied.
Luckily, we live in a time of unparalleled options.
For every reason you smoke, you can get better and healthier alternatives. From relieving stress; to boosting energy, mood, and focus; to alleviating anxiety and nervousness; to better bathroom regularity; and much more.
The Füm Inhaler is the best thing I’ve found to replace smoking. I regularly hear amazing stories of people succeeding with it when nothing else worked.
If you’re looking for strong mental stimulation, nootropics or some of the plant medicines work great.
Enjoy the feeling and habit of smoking? Perhaps you’re best off starting with some of the herbals.
Of course, there’s the mental side to quitting, but before taking the plunge, these at least give you better options.
What are your top alternatives to quitting nicotine, cigarettes, and smoking in general?