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"Healthy" Smoking Alternatives That You Should Avoid

 06/10/2024  

Key Takeaways

01.  While many companies may say that their products are healthy smoking alternatives, the majority come with a long list of potential negative health impacts.

02.  Products like Nicotine Replacement Therapy, smokeless tobacco, and heated tobacco products all contain nicotine, an additive, and harmful substance. 

03.  Nicotine-free vapes, smokeless tobacco, and heated tobacco products all contain chemicals that can be harmful to systems within your body.

04.  The Shift Vape Replacement necklace is a chemical-free, nicotine-free product that can support you on your journey to quitting smoking and supporting your health.

Reading between the Lines

If you’re pondering quitting smoking or have thought about trying to kick the habit before, you’re not alone! Nearly 7 of 10 smokers say they want to stop, and 50% said that they had attempted to quit in the last year. If you or a loved one are one of these individuals, you’re probably wondering how in the world to get started. What are healthy smoking alternatives? Are smokeless vapes a good transition point? What about the increasingly popular snus pouches?

 

Simply asking those questions is a great start! Quitting smoking is an amazing way to support your body and your wellness. Smoking causes harm to nearly every part of your body, from your brain all the way down to your feet. Chances are, you’ve seen and heard those ads portraying how unhealthy it is– some of those images can never get out of the brain!

 

Yet, according to the CDC, fewer than 10% of adult cigarette smokers can quit each year. That doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged, though! We mention it so that you’re prepared to dive in and set yourself up as much as possible to kick the habit. 

 

With that in mind, the best path toward success is building a solid awareness foundation. That means having answers to questions like, “Are nicotine-free vapes healthy smoking alternatives?” Unfortunately, many of the products touted as great substitutes come with their own set of health concerns. By avoiding pitfalls, making healthy choices, creating a support system, and knowing what to expect, you will have the tools you need to kick that nicotine habit.

“Healthy” Smoking Alternatives (and why they aren’t all that positive)

We live in an era of options. With such a societal push away from cigarettes, this has also extended towards smoking alternatives. Unfortunately, we also live in an era where you can’t always trust what you see and hear. Those marketing teams know what they’re doing! If something seems too good to be true, chances are, it probably is. 

 

One thing that many of these products rely on is the loophole that is “insufficient studies.” They haven’t been on the market long enough to truly understand their impact on our internal systems. This gives them the option to claim that they’re a healthy option to switch to. Lack of studies doesn’t immediately mean that they’re a good switch, though. Using what we know and drawing informed conclusions makes it easy to see why many smokeless alternatives are not as healthy as they may tout. 

 

If you’re looking to quit smoking, chances are one of the main reasons is to improve your health. The last thing you need to deal with is a setback, moving to a product that transitions you to a new nicotine habit, or doesn’t fully support your health-conscious move. With that in mind, here are the top smoking alternatives on the market, what they promote, and why they’re not as “healthy” as they may appear. This can help you make informed decisions on moving forward on your new, smokeless journey.

"Healthy" Smoking Alternatives #1: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) 

Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a method to provide nicotine in a way that does not involve tobacco. It was initially designed to assist people in quitting smoking by supplying nicotine without the thousands of harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. The main goal of using these products is to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that you can later give up nicotine as a whole.

Why People Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy

NRT is widely used by individuals looking for smoking alternatives because it helps manage the physical dependency on nicotine. If you are a regular smoker, you’re probably well aware of just how challenging it is to stop getting that nicotine buzz, thanks to its addictive nature. To make it more difficult, many people experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, difficulty focusing, and intense nicotine cravings. NRT companies promote that their products help mitigate these symptoms by providing controlled doses of nicotine.

 

NRT is available in various forms, including:

  • Patches
  • Gum
  • Lozenges
  • Sprays
  • Inhalers

These products allow smokers to gradually reduce their nicotine intake while they work on breaking the habit of smoking itself. The goal is to focus on the dual approach to get away from nicotine completely. Whether or not these products actually help individuals succeed is the question. Always chat with a medical professional before trying any of these products.

Drawbacks of Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Despite its benefits, NRT has several drawbacks that you need to consider before jumping on the bandwagon.

Continued Nicotine Dependence

One major concern with NRT is that it does not address nicotine addiction directly. Instead, it simply shifts the source of nicotine. What does that mean for you? There’s a potential you may remain dependent on nicotine, just through a different delivery method. This can sometimes extend the addiction when the goal is to kick the habit.

Side Effects

NRT can cause uncomfortable side effects. These can include skin irritation from patches and mouth or throat irritation from lozenges or gum. Some users may also experience dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, or an upset stomach. 

Cost

The cost of NRT can be another drawback. While smoking is expensive, the ongoing expense of purchasing NRT products can also add up. The financial burden of buying these products regularly, especially without health insurance coverage, can be a serious hindrance, especially if you find yourself relying more and more on this method to receive nicotine.

Variable Effectiveness

The effectiveness of NRT varies. You may find that NRT doesn’t really alleviate cravings or withdrawal symptoms, leading you to return to smoking. Success with NRT often depends on the level of nicotine dependence and outside factors, like whether you have a support system in place. 

"Healthy" Smoking Alternatives #2: Nicotine-Free Vapes

Nicotine-free vapes, also known as zero-nicotine e-cigarettes, are electronic devices designed to create an inhalable aerosol by heating a liquid that contains no nicotine. The liquids used in these vapes typically consist of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavorings, and other additives. These devices have recently gained popularity among those seeking smoking alternatives or working to avoid nicotine-containing e-liquids. 

Why Do People Use Nicotine-Free Vapes?

People turn to nicotine-free vapes for various reasons:

  • Quitting Nicotine: Many former smokers or vapers use nicotine-free vapes as a step-down method to eventually quit nicotine entirely.
  • Habit Maintenance: For some, the act of vaping itself is a comforting habit, and using nicotine-free versions allows them to maintain the ritual without the addictive substance.
  • Social and Sensory Experience: Vaping provides a social experience and the oral sensory habit that often goes along with smoking.

 

Even with these potential benefits, though, they don’t outweigh the negatives.

Drawbacks of Nicotine-Free Vapes

While nicotine-free vapes are often perceived as one of the go-to healthy smoking alternatives, they are not without their risks and drawbacks. Here are a few reasons to avoid using them:

Health Risks

Respiratory Issues:

Inhaling vapor from nicotine-free e-cigarettes can cause lung and throat irritation. The propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin used in e-liquids can dry out the mouth and respiratory tract, leading not only to an uncomfortable feeling but also to potential respiratory problems. The chemicals themselves also promote inflammation, leading to further potential respiratory problems.

Blood Vessel Damage:

Research has shown that even nicotine-free e-cigarettes can cause damage to blood vessels. This damage can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems over time, as the chemicals used in the vapor can lead to inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

Toxicity:

Despite lacking nicotine, the flavorings, and other additives in e-liquids can still pose health risks. Some contain chemicals including benzene (VOC), acetaldehyde (carcinogen), and acrolein (commonly used in weed killers). The combination of these chemicals can lead to potential toxicity and long-term health issues. Some of them have also been found to contain small amounts of nicotine, even though they’re branded as nicotine-free vapes. One study found nicotine in six out of the ten vapes they tested, three of which were comparable with those of commonly available low-dose nicotine vapes.

Psychological and Behavioral Concers

Sustaining the Habit:

Using nicotine-free vapes can perpetuate the behavioral aspects of smoking. This might make it harder for you to completely break free from the smoking habit, as the action of vaping can reinforce the hand-to-mouth routine and social habits associated with smoking. Not to mention, if it’s one of the brands falsely marketed and actually does contain nicotine, you’re not actually breaking away from the addictive substance.

Misleading Safety Perception:

Many people assume that because these vapes lack nicotine, they are entirely safe. This misconception can lead to increased use and dependency on vaping, overshadowing the potential risks associated with inhaling vaporized chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. That’s the power of messaging. At the end of the day, though, you’re still breathing in something that’s not normal, clean air. And you still might be inhaling nicotine!

"Healthy" Smoking Alternatives #3: Heated Tobacco Products

Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) are a relatively new addition to the tobacco market and are framed as healthier smoking alternatives. Unlike traditional cigarettes, which burn tobacco at a high temperature to produce smoke, HTPs heat processed tobacco leaves to a low enough temperature to release a nicotine-containing aerosol. Others work by heating liquids to create an aerosol that then passes through a tobacco plug to absorb flavor and nicotine. These methods are believed to reduce the number of harmful chemicals produced compared to conventional cigarette smoke, making them “healthier” smoking alternatives. Some of the brands you may have heard of are IQOS and Glo. While they market their products as reduced-risk alternatives to smoking, there are quite a few question marks regarding their impact on health.

So, Why Do People Use Heated Tobacco Products?

Several reasons may drive to opt for HTPs over traditional cigarettes or even other nicotine delivery systems. 

  • Perceived Health Benefits: Many users believe HTPs to be a healthier option because they supposedly expose them to fewer toxic substances than conventional cigarettes. Again, it’s all in the marketing technique and reading between the lines. As the World Health Organization says, “There is insufficient evidence to conclude that HTPs are less harmful than conventional cigarettes.”
  • Odor Reduction: HTPs produce less odor compared to traditional cigarettes, making them more socially acceptable in various settings. If you’ve been around someone who smokes, you can probably see why this is a perceived benefit.
  • Regulatory Loopholes: In some regions, HTPs are not subject to the same stringent regulations as traditional cigarettes, making them more accessible.
  • Technological Appeal: The modern design of HTP devices, combined with their technology, make them a “trendier” option as opposed to the normal cigarette.

So, what’s the catch to these “healthy” smoking alternatives?

Drawbacks of Heated Tobacco Products

As mentioned, these products aren’t all sunshine and daisies. Despite the touted benefits, HTPs come with significant drawbacks that should not be overlooked. Here's an exploration of why you might want to reconsider using them if you’re looking for a smoking alternative.

Health Risks

These products are absolutely not without their health risks. The FDA states it perfectly.

 

“There is no safe tobacco product. Non-combusted cigarettes may help reduce the risk of tobacco-related harms for adult smokers who switch completely from combusted cigarettes, but all tobacco products can lead to nicotine addiction and contain toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that can cause serious health problems.”

 

Toxic Chemical Exposure:

While HTPs might produce fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, they are not free from toxic substancesStudies have shown that aerosol generated by HTPs contains 20 harmful and potentially harmful chemicals that are significantly higher than in cigarette smoke. Some of the toxicants found in the emissions of certain HTP products are carcinogens. That’s also not including the list of chemicals found in equal levels between the two. 

 

And let’s not forget nicotine. Not only is it highly addictive, but it comes with its own set of risks which span from short-term to long-term adverse health reactions. 

 

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Issues:

The use of HTPs has been linked to adverse effects on heart health and lung function. The inhalation of heated aerosol can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, contributing to chronic diseases, increased blood pressure, infection, and respiratory conditions. The long-term impact of these products is still being researched, but early findings are not promising that health risks will be avoided. Let’s not forget the “insufficient studies” loophole.

Misleading Perceptions

As mentioned, HPTs are often marketed as a safer option with cool designs and an array of flavors to attract non-smokers and those looking for healthier smoking alternatives. This false sense of security has led many to increase their usage and neglect quitting, which is the goal! When you can still use tobacco without many of the drawbacks of cigarettes, it’s easy to fall back into the nicotine loop. At the end of the day, it turns that health-conscious choice into another route for addiction and the associated risks that go along. 

 

As another pitfall, it also targets youth and young adults. One study found that a little under 1 in 100 middle school and a little over 1 in 100 high school students reported using HTPs in the previous 30 days. This trend points to the initiation of tobacco use among individuals who might otherwise never have started smoking, increasing the overall number of nicotine-dependent individuals around the world. Not to mention, there’s the unknown health impact of nicotine and the other chemicals found in these products on internal systems that are still developing.

"Healthy" Smoking Alternatives #4: Smokeless Tobacco Products

Smokeless tobacco products give you the hit of nicotine without any burning involved, which is why the companies promote them as “healthy” smoking alternatives. 

 

They include products such as:

  • Chewing tobacco—These products contain loose tobacco leaves that can come just as they are or in pellets, plugs, and twists. To use them, you either chew it or place it between your teeth and cheek to suck. They also have flavored options.
  • Snuff—This product is finely ground tobacco leaves and can be dry or moist. Dry snuff can be lightly inhaled, and moist snuff, or dipped tobacco, is placed between the gum and cheek.
  • Snus—This smokeless tobacco product originated in Sweden. It is moist powder tobacco, either loose or pre-packed. Both are typically placed under the upper lip for extended periods. Unlike other forms of smokeless tobacco, snus does not require spitting.
  • Dissolvable tobacco—These products contain finely ground tobacco pressed into shapes such as sticks, pellets, strips, lozenges, or orbs that melt in the mouth to deliver nicotine.

Why People Use Smokeless Tobacco

Breathwork is the best-kept secret to wellness, backed by science. The Shift uses a patented design to slow your exhale, giving you more control over stress, anxiety, and cravings associated with withdrawal. This is one of the biggest benefits of The Shift Vape Replacement Necklace, which is a great healthy smokeless vape alternative.

Drawbacks of Smokeless Tobacco Products

Despite the absence of smoke, these products are far from “healthy” smoking alternatives. They can pose numerous health risks that can be just as severe, if not worse, than smoking. Here’s why you should skip using these products.

Cancer Risk:

Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals, including nitrosamines, which are present at high levels. Studies so far point to an increased risk of: 

  • Oral cancer, including cancers of the mouth, tongue, cheek, and gums
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pharyngeal cancer

Oral Health Problems:

Another issue is that your mouth will absolutely not benefit from these products, and that does not even including the potential for cancer. The use of smokeless tobacco can lead to various oral health issues, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. It can cause leukoplakia, which are white patches inside the mouth that can become cancerous.

Nicotine Addiction:

Smokeless tobacco delivers nicotine, and as we know, this leads to other health risks as well as addiction. Since these products don’t leave an intense cloud behind, users who move from cigarettes to smokeless can actually become more dependent because they’re discreet. That’s definitely not what we want if you’re working to ditch the nicotine.

Heart Disease and Stroke:

The nicotine and other chemicals in smokeless tobacco can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use contributes to heart disease and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

So, while smokeless tobacco products might seem like a less harmful alternative to smoking, they carry their own set of serious health risks and drawbacks. The carcinogens present in these products can lead to deadly cancers, and the high levels of nicotine make addiction a serious concern.

A Smoking Alternative That's Actually Healthy

Poster

The Shift Vape Replacement Necklace is a simple yet innovative necklace that helps you slow your exhale to over 8 seconds, activating your vagus nerve and soothing your nervous system. Slowing the exhale is key to harnessing a lengthy list of benefits for your body and mind.

 

This original breathing necklace does not use apps, batteries, or chemicals—it simply harnesses a natural, silent breath technique that brings calm. After reading all of the information above, the lack of chemicals should be a huge green flag! If you're considering healthy smoking alternatives without the drawbacks, the Shift Vape Altnerative Necklace is a perfect option. Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits.

Breaking the Nicotine Habit

Breathwork is a hidden gem for wellness, and it's science-backed. The Shift Breathing Necklace is the best vape alternative necklace because its patented design helps you manage stress, anxiety with long exhales, replaces the hand to mouth motion, and the soothes cravings that come with nicotine withdrawal by calming the nervous system. Relieving anxiety is one of the top benefits of The Shift Breathing Necklace, making it an excellent tool to help quit smoking.

Managing Anxiety

Many turn to cigarettes, vapes, or smokeless alternatives for stress relief, but that actually can be detrimental to your mental state. Nicotine provides temporary relief from anxiety, but it does not address the underlying issues. Studies actually show that long-term smoking is linked to increased anxiety risk.

 

The Shift Vape Altnerative Necklace offers a healthier, zero-nicotine solution, and you can wear it wherever you go on a bracelet or necklace! Slowing your exhalations helps trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing anxiety and calming the mind. Not only does this help with the go-go-go of everyday life, but it also can help you curb that nicotine craving.

Replacing Oral FIxation

Smoking, vaping, and alternatives like smokeless tobacco pouches often involve the habit of bringing something to your mouth. But, every time you use one of these options, you’re introducing all sorts of chemicals to your body. Not to mention the nicotine itself. 

 

The Shift Vape Replacement Necklace provides a healthier way to satisfy this oral fixation through natural, deep breathing.

 

Whether you're searching for a smoking alternative, looking to kick products like smokeless tobacco, or need a tool to help with anxiety, The Shift Breathing Necklace is an alternative that’s actually healthy to help you on your journey.

Finally, Make a Plan!

The Shift Vape Alternative Necklace can and should be used alongside a comprehensive plan to leave nicotine in the past. Embarking on this journey should always involve a strategy to help with success. Let’s be completely honest- giving up nicotine is hard. Those of us at Komuso are absolutely aware of the struggle. Creating a game plan, knowing what to expect, and having safeguards in place to help along the way can make a world of difference. Working with a medical professional can also help you create a solid path forward. 

 

The more you do to prepare and set yourself up to manage any road bumps, the higher the chances of your success! Because you can absolutely triumph and begin a brand new, nicotine-free chapter. Just remember to give yourself grace, ask for help when needed, and visualize how happy you’ll be at the end of the process. You’ve got this. 

 

As a final word, when choosing healthy smoking alternatives, make sure to look through the smoke and mirrors and opt for something that will promote your wellness and not make quitting harder than it already is!

The Shift breathing necklace, so much good in one breath.

QUIT NOW

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