5 things you should know about smoking alternatives if you’re trying to quit

Smoke-free alternatives can be a better choice for those adults who continue to smoke. Picture: E-Liquids UK Unsplash

Smoke-free alternatives can be a better choice for those adults who continue to smoke. Picture: E-Liquids UK Unsplash

Published Oct 13, 2023


While quitting tobacco and nicotine use is the best choice, we recognise that many adult smokers struggle to do so.

However, there are alternatives available that are less harmful than traditional smoking. These alternatives include snus, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco products (HTPs), which have undergone years of research and development.

Buhle Binta, head of scientific engagement at Philip Morris South Africa, stresses the need for awareness and accurate information regarding these alternatives.

She acknowledges the widespread misinformation and confusion surrounding vaping, e-cigarettes, and heat-not-burn tobacco products.

Although quitting altogether is the ideal option, smoke-free alternatives can be a better choice for those adults who continue to smoke. Binta addresses some common questions to shed light on these alternatives:

How are smoke-free alternatives different from cigarettes?

The fundamental difference lies in the absence of burning. Smoke-free alternatives do not burn tobacco, making them a better option for adults compared to traditional smoking.

By eliminating combustion, these alternatives significantly reduce the levels of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

Do smoke-free alternatives contain nicotine?

In most cases, yes. Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco, so heated tobacco products and many vapes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is one of the factors that contribute to smoking addiction, along with taste and ritual.

Is nicotine the primary cause of smoking-related diseases?

There is a misconception about nicotine. While nicotine is addictive and not risk-free, scientific evidence shows that it is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases.

The burning of tobacco is the main culprit. Nicotine, along with taste and ritual, is a reason why people smoke, but adult smokers can fully switch to better alternatives.

Are all smoke-free products the same?

There are significant differences, as well as some similarities, between e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices. Both are smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, but heat-not-burn products heat real tobacco within a specific temperature range to prevent burning.

E-cigarettes, on the other hand, vaporise a liquid solution containing nicotine and flavours when the user inhales.

Why do we need less harmful alternatives?

The global smoking rate still needs to be reduced, as predicted by the World Health Organization. By providing accurate information about smoke-free alternatives, we can ensure that adults who would otherwise continue smoking have access to better options.

Binta stresses that promoting awareness and understanding of smoke-free alternatives empowers adult smokers to make informed choices about their health and well-being.

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