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  • Writer's pictureThe Health Master

Can CBD help you stop smoking?

Research Study- A non-intoxicating component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), may be useful as a drug to help people quit smoking cigarettes, according to research.

  • 100 million people died from tobacco use in the 20th century. If current trends continue one billion people will die from tobacco use in the 21st century.3

  • Tobacco use kills up to half of all lifetime users.4 On average, smokers lose 15 years of life.5

  • Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year.1 Of these deaths, 1.2 million are caused by secondhand smoke exposure.2

  • Tobacco-related illnesses account for 1 in 10 adult deaths worldwide. By 2030, 80% of those deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries.4

More than 1.1 billion people smoke world-wide 1. A primary addictive driver of cigarette smoking is nicotine withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs upon cessation and includes physiological symptoms (headaches, nausea), affective symptoms (anxiety, depression and irritability) and impaired cognitive performance (delay discounting, response inhibition) 2, which peak within the first few days 3. Some evidence suggests withdrawal severity predicts relapse 3-6, prevention of which is a major challenge in the treatment of addiction 7. Even when using the currently most effective smoking cessation drug (varenicline), a majority still fail to maintain long-term abstinence 8. Nicotinic medications may also have unpleasant side effects, e.g. nausea 9.

There is mounting evidence that the endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) system is involved in motivation for rewards, including modulating the rewarding effects of drugs 10-15.

Research such as this study has found that after a single dose of CBD treatment, heavy daily smokers found that smoking peer pressure was less tempting. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) symptoms that were visually attention-grabbing, such as seeing friends smoking - often trigger relapses in those who have quit. This study has shown that CBD could help people experiencing the FOMO symptoms, to stop smoking.

For the study, 30 dependent cigarette smokers came into the lab after smoking normally and were given pills of either CBD or a placebo. The participants who received CBD showed less attraction to cigarettes. The subjects also experienced aversion to pictures of cigarettes, which usually triggers relapse to smoke again.

Previous research has found that many addictive disorders, such as cigarette smoking visual cues can predict short-term relapse, and may play a causal role in maintaining addiction.

Researchers believe that attentional bias occurs because of changes in the reward pathway of the brain caused by years of smoking. The smokers attention was attracted to cigarette related images.

CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is not intoxicating, and has been shown to have broad therapeutic benefits without harmful side effects.

Existing drugs for smoking cessation are not effective for most people who take them, and some have substantial side effects. The researchers say their the results of their study suggests that CBD is a promising candidate for a new treatment option.

Links to peer-reviewed research:


A non-intoxicating component of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), may be useful as a drug to help people quit smoking cigarettes', according to a new study led by Chandni Hindocha (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit). Cannabis component could treat nicotine addiction | UCL News - UCL - University College London


Cannabidiol reverses attentional bias to cigarettes cues in a human experimental model of tobacco withdrawal.


Increasingly, research suggests that vaping cbd may help people quit smoking cigarettes when previous attempts have failed. CBD oil vapes provide a way to ease out of nicotine addiction without having to break the physical habit of smoking.


1 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2019: The MPOWER package. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019.

2 Tobacco Fact Sheet. World Health Organization; 26 July, 2019. Available at:

3 Eriksen M et al. The Tobacco Atlas. Fifth Ed. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2015.

4 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2011: The MPOWER package. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011.

5 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER package. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008.

These statements have not been evaluated and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Please consult with a health professional when implementing with any current medical regimen.

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