Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has many potential benefits. Studies have shown that CBD may relieve anxiety, reduce pain, decrease excessive inflammation, and offer neuroprotective qualities, among other things. As more studies are done on CBD, we’re learning even more things CBD may be able to do, including potentially help people quit smoking tobacco.
Some recent studies have shown that the effects of CBD could help tobacco smokers quit smoking. This had led to a rise in CBD products that are marketed toward smokers who are trying to quit, including CBD cigarettes. But can CBD cigarettes or other CBD products really help you quit smoking? Let’s take a closer look at CBD cigarettes and what the current research says about using CBD as a smoking cessation tool.
What Are CBD Cigarettes?
CBD cigarettes, also known as hemp cigarettes, are cigarettes that are filled with hemp instead of tobacco. Hemp cannabis plants are rich in CBD, but contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is cannabinoid in cannabis that’s responsible for its psychoactive effects. This means that hemp cigarettes offer plenty of CBD without being intoxicating. Note that hemp also doesn’t contain nicotine, so CBD hemp cigarettes are nicotine-free.
Research on Using CBD to Quit Smoking
Some people say that CBD cigarettes can help tobacco smokers quit by providing a nicotine-free replacement that looks and feels like a regular cigarette. This could certainly be useful to someone who’s trying to quit tobacco, but studies suggest that the CBD in CBD cigarettes may also help smokers quit in several other ways. There’s evidence that CBD may reduce cigarette cues, reduce nicotine cravings, and reduce certain addiction behaviors.
CBD and Neutralized Cigarette Cues
One of the many challenging aspects of quitting tobacco is fighting cigarette cues, which are things that trigger the urge to smoke. Cigarette cues can pop up everywhere when you’re trying to quit. For example, someone could feel the urge to smoke every time they would normally have smoked during their daily routine, when they remember smoking somewhere or with someone, or when they see a character smoke in a TV show.
A 2018 study found that oral CBD may help tobacco cigarette smokers experience fewer triggers to smoke by neutralizing their response to cigarette cues. In this study, published in the journal Addiction, researchers told 30 tobacco smokers not to smoke for 12 hours, then gave some participants a single dose of 800 mg CBD oil and the others a placebo. At the end of the 12 hour abstinence period, the researchers found that CBD oil reduced the salience and pleasantness of cigarette cues in the CBD group. They also found that systolic blood pressure levels decreased in the CBD group.
CBD and Reducing Nicotine Cravings
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, so tobacco smokers can face powerful cravings for nicotine when they try to quit. But there’s some evidence that suggests inhaling CBD may reduce cravings and help smokers who are trying to quit reduce their cigarette intake.
In 2013, a team of researchers conducted a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial that aimed to assess how taking CBD as needed affected smokers who wanted to quit smoking cigarettes. Half of the study group received a CBD inhaler, while the other half received a placebo inhaler, and each participant was told to use their inhaler when they felt the urge to smoke. Over the course of a week, the placebo group showed no difference in the number of cigarettes they smoked. The CBD inhaler group, on the other hand, experienced a significant reduction, smoking 40% fewer cigarettes on average. The results of the study indicated that the CBD inhaler group results were also somewhat maintained at a later follow-up.
The researchers who conducted this 2013 study wrote that these findings indicate that CBD could be a potential treatment for nicotine addiction. They theorized that CBD may help reduce cigarette intake by acting as a weak agonist on CB1 endocannabinoid system receptors in the brain. They also suggested that CBD could reduce cigarette intake because it inhibits the enzyme FAAH, which could indirectly reduce the boosting properties of nicotine.
CBD and Fighting Addiction
Some scientists theorize that CBD may reduce addiction symptoms in general, as there are various studies that suggest this cannabinoid may reduce symptoms that are associated with addiction. For example, there are studies that suggest CBD may reduce impulsive behavior and certain drug seeking behaviors. There are also plenty of studies that show CBD may reduce anxiety and stress, which are both risk factors for addiction relapse.
How to Use CBD Cigarettes to Quit Smoking
There’s some evidence that suggests the effects of CBD may help tobacco smokers quit cigarettes— so how do you use CBD cigarettes to quit smoking?
There haven’t been enough studies on using CBD cigarettes to quit smoking to recommend using them alone. If you want to quit smoking and also want to try CBD cigarettes, you can replace your cigarettes with CBD cigarettes, but you may also want to combine this action with a quit plan.
Medical experts say that making a quit-smoking plan may help improve your chances of quitting smoking for good. Making a quit plan can help you prepare to handle cravings and set clear expectations for yourself, while also helping you stay motivated and making sure you have a strong support system in place. Essentially, making a quit plan sets you up for success by helping you prepare for obstacles and difficulties.
Everyone is different, so the best quit plan for you may be different from the best quit plan for someone else. That’s why experts usually recommend that you make a personalized quit plan. To help you get started, here are some things that people often include in their quit plans:
- A List of Reasons For Quitting: A list of reasons for quitting tobacco can provide a solid foundation for your quit plan. When you have clear, important reasons for quitting, it can make sticking to your plan that much easier.
- A Quit Day: Setting a quit day is a crucial part of making a quit plan. Experts often recommend picking a day that’s within the next couple of weeks, since that will give you enough time to prepare, but not so much time that you lose your resolve. You can pick a random day, a day that has special meaning for you, or a day that you know won’t be stressful. The important part is to pick a quit day, mark it on your calendar, then stick to that date.
- A Plan to Reach Out To Your Support System: Having a support system in place before you quit can give you the emotional and moral support you need to cope with the physical and mental strain that’s associated with quitting tobacco. So, make a plan to reach out to a support system. Your support system could be made up of trusted family and friends, or perhaps a support group or counselor.
- A Plan For Dealing With Cravings: Making a plan to deal with cravings can help you ride out the powerful nicotine withdrawal symptoms that follow quitting tobacco. If you’re considering using CBD cigarettes to fight your cravings for tobacco cigarettes, make a plan to have enough CBD cigarettes on hand on your quit day. If you’re interested in trying other CBD products as well, you could also plan to have full spectrum CBD oil or a CBD vaping device on hand. Additionally, you may want to have some smoke-free and vapor-free cigarette substitutes on hand for when smoking and vaping are not an option. Some ideas of smoke-free substitutes include gum, hard candy, straws, carrot sticks, gummies, and cinnamon sticks. Put your CBD cigarettes, CBD vape, and smoke-free cigarette substitutes where you would normally put your tobacco cigarettes, so they’ll be there instead when you reach for your usual cigarettes out of habit.
- A List of Triggers: Before your quit day, it’s a good idea to think about your triggers. Do you want to smoke when you drink coffee during your morning routine? Or perhaps when you go to a certain place, hang out with a specific person, or do a certain activity? Think about what could trigger you before you quit so that you can prepare to avoid or minimize your triggers. For example, if you normally smoke when you talk on the phone, make sure you have something else on hand to distract you (like a pen and paper for doodling, a fidget tool, etc.) while you’re on calls.
Final Thoughts on Using CBD to Quit Tobacco Smoking
There’s some interesting research that suggests CBD may help people quit smoking and, anecdotally, a lot of smokers have said that CBD products like CBD cigarettes have helped them quit. The idea that CBD may help smokers quit is exciting, since quitting tobacco is extremely difficult. And, while there are some products and prescriptions available to people who are trying to quit smoking, a lot of traditional smoking cessation tools come with unpleasant side effects. So, it would be wonderful if CBD could be a natural alternative to these traditional products and prescriptions.
Still, it’s important to point out that the research on using CBD to quit smoking is still in its infancy. More research is needed to understand if or how CBD may help someone quit smoking tobacco. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what future studies say about using CBD to quit tobacco.