Worried about getting through a flight without vaping or smoking? I’ve been there. In this article, I’ll explain everything there is to know about getting through your nicotine cravings on flights.
A brief history of smoking on planes:
It’s hard to imagine, but in the not-so-distant past, smoking was permitted (and even encouraged!) on airlines. It was only in 1988 that the U.S. Department of Transportation officially banned smoking on all domestic flights under 2 hours. Before this, smoking was not only commonplace but considered fashionable and socially acceptable in most public spaces, including airplanes. Because a significant portion of the population smoked, airlines catered to customer preferences and allowed smoking as a way to accommodate and attract customers. Unsurprisingly, cigarette companies saw aviation as an emerging luxury marketing opportunity, and soon smoking while flying became the ultimate status symbol.
In the late 20th century, as scientific research uncovered health risks associated with smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, societal perceptions and attitudes around smoking began to shift. By the early 1990s, the U.S. banned smoking on all domestic flights, regardless of length.
This historical context helps emphasize just how entwined nicotine and flying have been since the inception of commercial aviation. You’re not alone if you crave nicotine on a flight - wanting a drug that’s associated with relaxation and enjoyment makes perfect sense while you’re bored (or anxious) in the friendly skies.
Here are my favorite tips to get through cravings at 35,000 feet:
- My go-to flight helper is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT products include nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, and my personal favorite, Jones 2mg Nicotine Lozenges. Not only do they reduce my cravings onboard, but they also ensure I’m compliant with airline regulations. In 2022 vapes and e-cigs were the number one cause of lithium-ion battery incidents on aircraft, so bringing a vape is not worth the risk! NRT is safer for your lungs & the flight. Win-win.
- My next piece of advice is to distract yourself from the cravings. Bring a book, listen to music or podcasts, watch a movie, or even play Quittle (in the Jones App) designed to help distract you while cravings pass. If you’re feeling crazy, try talking to your seat mate (they might not appreciate it, but it will certainly be a distraction!) Here’s one of our favorite Jones Spotify playlists.
- Help pass the time and reduce stress using breathing or meditation techniques. Simple breathing exercises or mindfulness practices can help calm your mind and reduce the intensity of cravings. (My favorite App is HeadSpace–I use it on almost every flight!)
- Stay hydrated! Don’t forget to bring a large water bottle to help manage cravings and keep your mouth occupied, potentially reducing your urges. Water doesn’t just help with nic cravings, doctors recommend drinking 8 oz of water for every hour you’re in the air. There are two reasons. The first is that cabin air holds a lot less moisture compared to the air on land - this can cause discomfort like headaches. The second is that drinking water forces you to go to the bathroom. It’s important to get up and move. Looking for a lightweight water bottle to travel with? We’ve got you covered–here’s our favorite Nalgene.
- Remember to bring gum! Chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on healthy foods like nuts, fruits, or vegetables can help keep your mouth busy, which can alleviate cravings. Jones mint lozenges also help keep your mouth busy while satisfying nic cravings.
Travel these days is hard enough with constant cancellations and delays–don’t add nicotine cravings & withdrawal on top. Between work travel and my long-distance relationship, I’m constantly traveling. This is my tried and tested method to help me get through cravings. Consider these suggestions on how to make your travels more manageable. Also, if other tricks have worked for you please share them with us in the comment section below–we’re always eager to hear how people manage their cravings.
Safe & smooth travels!