The number of Americans smoking tobacco cigarettes is falling rapidly. According to CDC data, the rate of adults who smoked cigarettes declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2016.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that quitting is getting easier. For the millions of Americans that are planning to stop smoking cigarettes, however, there are studies suggesting that CBD may reduce nicotine cravings, as well as help with other side effects of smoking.
In this article, we take a close look at the practicality and potential of using CBD to help quit smoking. First, though, let’s discuss why cigarettes are so addictive in the first place.
Why Are Tobacco Cigarettes So Addictive?
For consumers to understand how CBD might work, they need to look at the potential reasons behind tobacco addiction.
Conventional wisdom states that the effects of nicotine cause addiction to cigarettes.
Most experts classify drug addiction as a disease that causes an individual to seek out something compulsively. Addiction can also be chemical, with the body developing a dependence on the drug in order to function normally.
Despite a significant proportion of cigarette smokers attempting to quit, many are often unsuccessful. This suggests there may be other reasons people smoke than the addictive qualities of nicotine. One theory suggests that tobacco addiction is due to the fact it is a habit established over a long period.
Experts feel that habits, aka learned behaviors, become ingrained in humans both psychologically and physically, making it very difficult to disengage from them.
Is Vaping CBD a Viable Alternative to Tobacco Cigarettes?
Some experts argue that replacing the compulsion to smoke is the solution, rather than trying to quit tobacco altogether. For this reason, many choose to replace smoking cigarettes with vaping e-cigarettes, as the latter is thought to potentially be a less harmful alternative.
That said, vaping is not without its own risks, and there was a rise in a condition known as e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in 2019.
When people smoke cigarettes, they are inhaling carcinogenic substances released from combustion. The simplified idea is that people expose themselves to fewer cancer-causing agents when vaping, as opposed to when smoking cigarettes (even if little is currently known regarding the long-term effects of vape use).
However, vaping tobacco still exposes the body to nicotine. So making the change does not impact the body’s chemical addiction to nicotine and, in some cases, may even increase the amount of nicotine a person consumes (since vaping may be easier and done more frequently than smoking).
There are studies suggesting that CBD may be beneficial for people trying to quit smoking cigarettes.
CBD & Quitting Cigarettes – The Studies
A study by Morgan et al., published in the journal Addictive Behavior in 2013, looked at whether CBD could reduce cigarette consumption in tobacco users. It was a double-blind pilot study that involved 24 subjects, all of whom smoked at least ten tobacco cigarettes a day.
Half of the group were given an inhaler with CBD, while the other half got an inhaler with a placebo. The treatment lasted for one week. All subjects recorded their tobacco cravings and anxiety daily. As part of the study, researchers conducted a follow-up interview 21 days later.
After the initial treatment week, the CBD group smoked 40% fewer cigarettes than before. In comparison, the placebo group showed no difference. While both groups recorded a decrease in cravings and anxiety during the treatment week, they returned to their initial conditions after 21 days.
The authors concluded that CBD could be an effective means of reducing tobacco cigarette consumption but acknowledged that more extensive scale studies with longer follow-ups were necessary.
Study Shows That CBD Reduces Attentional Bias to Tobacco Imagery
Another interesting study looked at the impact of attentional bias; a phenomenon wherein a person becomes strongly focused on specific stimuli while ignoring others. For example, if an individual who smokes tobacco cigarettes regularly watches a show featuring smoking, they are more likely to crave a cigarette.
The study in question, published in the journal Addiction in May 2018, discovered that CBD could reduce attentional bias to tobacco imagery. In the study, 30 volunteers who smoked received instructions to stop smoking for 12 hours. They also took either 800mg of CBD orally or a placebo.
They then were shown tobacco-related items such as smoking-related scenes, along with neutral images. The volunteers that consumed CBD didn’t have a more significant reduction in cravings, but they did find cigarette smoking cues to be less appealing.
The study built on a 2010 publication in Neuropsychopharmacology that made similar conclusions regarding the impact of CBD on high-THC cannabis use. In this study, researchers observed the “range of potential therapeutic uses of CBD,” suggesting its ability to “acutely modulate the reinforcing properties of drugs.”
So… Can CBD Help People to Quit Smoking?
The simple question remains: can CBD help people quit smoking?
It’s certainly true that CBD should not be labeled as a “cure-all” when it comes to quitting cigarettes. More research is required before any definitive conclusions can be made.
That said, it does appear that using CBD may have some impact on urges to smoke. This may be due to the properties of CBD itself, as well as the mimicking benefit (compared to cigarette smoking) afforded by using a vape device.
Final Thoughts: Can CBD Help People to Quit Smoking?
As mentioned, research is still in its infancy. Indeed, the studies cited above are the primary materials that are available at this time. If people are addicted to cigarette smoking, and have tried everything else, CBD could be an option worth investigating.
For those wondering where to start with regard to using CBD vape products to help quit smoking, there are no shortage of options available.
Things like CBD-rich hemp flower (used in a dry herb vape) may be a good option, as well as things like CBD vape pens and e-liquids. If you’ve found a CBD product that worked well in helping you to quit smoking, be sure to share your experience in the comments section below.