In short the answer to the question: "Is there a best way to give up smoking" is yes. There is a best way to give up smoking for everyone but the method that may work for you may not work for others. What you need to do is find out which way is best for you.
There are several methods you can employ to give up smoking. The main ones are behavioural therapy, hypnosis, drugs, nicotine replacement therapy, will power and 'alternative' methods. I will give a brief description of each approach along with its pros and cons.
Is cognitive behavioural therapy the best way top give up smoking?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most successful methods to help smokers give up with success rates well above 50%. This is not the same as the standard literature you find all over the place. It is not the 'set a give up date', 'write out a give up plan', 'stay in and avoid alcohol' etc. etc. That doesn't work.
Cognitive behavioural therapy breaks smoking down into twenty or so component parts and changes the way you think about smoking, component by component. The end result is that all the reasons you think you smoke for are destroyed and you lose the will to smoke.
It is not a magic bullet. It is just one particularly effective approach to giving up smoking that uses no drugs whatsoever and leaves smokers feeling liberated the moment they give up smoking, rather than being fraught with anxiety. It is cheap when compared to other systems (less than $50) and is normally sold with a no quibble money back guarantee.
Is hypnosis the best way to give up smoking?
Studies suggest that hypnosis is successful to the tune of 30% of smokers in single sessions. Using multiple sessions, success rates of 60% plus have been reported. There is some evidence that women struggle to give up as readily as men using hypnosis.
It works by changing a person's mental attitude toward smoking using powerful visualisation techniques. Hypnosis is similar to neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. Both use similar relaxation and meditation techniques to overcome cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It is far from suitable for everyone but it is non-chemical and there are no drugs to use.
Hypnosis products can be bought over the internet for around $50 but one to one sessions with hypnotherapists can be considerably more expensive, to the tune of several hundred dollars.
Are drug therapies the best way to give up smoking?
The pharmaceutical industry seems to think so! Zyban is found to work in about 16% of smokers and Chantix has been found to be about 22% effective. It is not 44% effective as claimed by Pfizer, its manufacturer.
Drug therapies are almost always used alongside counselling to help smokers achieve their aims of becoming non-smokers. Drug therapies can be provided by health authorities or may be included within medical insurance. They generally cost in excess of $300 to complete the courses if bought privately.
The downside to drug therapies aside from cost is that you may suffer from side effects which can be serious enough to stop you using the drug.
Another downside is that you do not get a money back guarantee with them, unlike my own book (which uses cognitive behavioural therapy) and most hypnosis products available on the internet.
Is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) the best way to give up smoking?
Studies show that NRT can increase you chances of giving up smoking when compared to people trying to give up cold turkey taking it from around 5% to around 10%. It comes in the form of 'transdermal' patches, which deliver nicotine through the skin into the bloodstream. It also comes as gum or pills (lozenges and microtabs) or plastic cigarettes or nasal sprays.
Nicotine replacement therapies work on the assumption that smoking consists of nicotine 'addiction' and the 'habit' of smoking. Smokers are expected to overcome the 'habit' whilst still getting their nicotine hit from the NRT product and then they are expected to reduce their nicotine intake until they are free from cigarettes and nicotine all together.
The downside of NRT is its expense in relation to the success rate it achieves. It is just as expensive as smoking and can leave people still needing the nicotine in the form of gum or lozenges for many months or even years after giving up smoking. NRT is often used in conjunction with Zyban to enhance both NRT and Zyban effectiveness. This makes it twice as expensive of course!
Is willpower the best way to give up smoking?
Will power has a very low success rate and smokers generally need to make several attempts over several years before they successfully give up smoking. The benefits of the willpower method are that the long terms success rate is very high. Chantix, Zyban and NRT approaches to giving up smoking can be more effective in the short term, but in the longer term, willpower quitters stay off the smokes for good.
The financial benefit of this method is very good of course because it doesn't cost a penny! This is however a false economy because it takes so long to successfully give up, there are a lot of packs of cigarettes bought between attempts and the final, and successful quit.
Are alternative methods the best way to give up smoking?
Alternative methods include herbal remedies, acupuncture and laser treatments amongst many others. Anecdotally, these methods have been found to be successful but the scientific evidence is not available. TV programs showing how 'successful' each of these treatments can be rely on interviewing one or two individuals - hence the anecdotal support.
These methods are frequently expensive and rarely come with a money back guarantee. They are virtually all supported by counselling in the form of book, audio tapes or one to one sessions.
So what is the best way to give up smoking?
My advice is to start by accepting there is going to be a cost to giving up smoking. There is going to be a higher cost to continue smoking, not only in terms of cash, but most significantly in terms of health.
If you want to give up smoking be prepared to accept that you may need to try several methods before you find your very own best way to give up smoking. The one that works for you will not be 50% or 30% or 22% effective - the one that works for you will be 100% effective and that is what really matters.
Start by considering products that come with money back guarantees so you can try it and if you fail, you can get your money back. Then move onto the next system until you come to those solutions that do not have money back guarantees.
As ever, my advice to any smoker trying to give up is to never stop trying to give up. Fall down seven times, get up eight!