You can find many different stop smoking aids in the market these days. The number of available treatments just keeps growing. This is a large market that just keeps on growing, but the main treatments available in the US fall into one of these five categories: nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine-free prescription medication, the stop smoking shot, quit smoking hypnosis, counseling/support groups.

Which is the best? Unfortunately, there is no independent large-scale third party clinical trials done, so there is no point in talking about the statistics. Any numbers you can find are either strictly from some company's marketing department or creatively manipulated from a clinical trial. For example, take the results for nicotine patches: 17%-36% vs placebos at 4%-26%. This number is quoted by SourceWatch from a leaked internal presentation at Philip Morris in 1992. There is such a wide range in the numbers that it becomes rather meaningless.

That being the case, how should you choose the best stop smoking aid? The best way is from experience. Ask your doctor for advice. If this advice is acceptable to you, follow it. If not, you will have to rely on trial and error. In other words, try one class of treatments one after another until you find something that works. Of course, if you know yourself well, you can quickly prioritize which type of treatment to try first. For example, if you are a lone wolf who never listens to anyone else, you can easily eliminate counselling and quit smoking support groups from your list of treatments to try. If you are someone who does not believe in "all that mental stuff", you can forget about quit smoking hypnosis or any other form of psychologically based treatment.

Let's look at the different classes of stop smoking aid. The most established of the lot is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). It mainly comes in the form of a time-release patch, chewing gum or lozenges. The main point is to quit smoking nearly immediately (cold turkey), then slowly weaning yourself away from the nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Effectively, it is the same as slowly reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke, except that you stop contaminating the air around you sooner.

Another rather old school stop smoking aid is counselling. In the US there is also telephone counselling available - 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669). Effectiveness varies, mainly depending on both the counselor's skill and your rapport with him. Good rapport does not mean they have to treat you with kid gloves. Some of them may go for the tough love style. If this works for you, great! If not, find another counselor.

A related choice is to find a support group of people who also want to quit smoking. This can work well if most of the people in the group are trying and succeeding. However, there is a risk known by successful businessmen in their networking groups - birds of a feather flock together. In other words, if you join a group where most of the members are failing to kick their cigarette habit, you will also fail along with them. So spend a bit more time to find a support group whose members are actually successfully quitting their smoking habit.

One popular choice of stop smoking aid in the Big-Pharma dominated US is the use of nicotine-free prescription medication. The two best established drugs are Chantix (approved by the FDA in 2006) and Zyban (approved by the FDA in 1997). Based on Mayo Clinic's statistics, there is a 23% success rate when used in conjunction with counseling. Both of these pills are taken in pill form, so they are convenient. Like NRT, they work by reducing your nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Something that is growing in popularity is the stop smoking shot. Right now, one famous brand is called SMART, marketed by AMI. They claim to have a 70% to 80% success rate, and all you need is one injection. However, they have not published any clinical studies, and the SMART jab has yet to be approved by the FDA for treating smoking addiction. That is not to say it doesn't work, just that there is not enough independent data.

The final group of stop smoking aid is quit smoking hypnosis. Smoking hypnosis conducted by a qualified and skilled hypnotherapist can work. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a miracle cure in just one or two sessions of hypnosis (in general). A skilled hypnotist can show you impressive results quickly, but until he uncovers and eliminates the true cause that is making you smoke, the results will not last very long. True long-term results need multiple follow-up sessions.

Something that many smokers have fooled around with are self hypnosis CDs for quitting smoking. However, this is not a regulated field, so you will find a lot of snake oil being peddled. This is why many people fail to quit smoking using hypnosis. If you want to walk down this path, you are better off learning self hypnosis or NLP properly, and then applying the skills to your own specific situation.

So now you know the five main classes of stop smoking aid that are popular in the US. In other countries, other choices are available - alternative herbal medicines in Europe, acupuncture in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, shiatsu in Japan, ayurveda in India.