Summer is here, the weather is amazing, and we all want to be outside instead of at a desk. Whether you are just starting on your hiking journey or are a seasoned veteran of the trails, there is a path for you, even if you are one of the many recreational hikers.
The American Hiking Organization lists the health benefits that are not to be overlooked, some of which include lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack, and reducing anxiety. These conditions are also related to the risk of smoking, which is why those who smoke should take up hiking in addition to looking for ways to quit.
While smoking on a hike is not to be recommended for many reasons, it is allowed in many places. We also understand that many hikers are recreational, and some will be smokers who will want a cigarette on the trail. If this includes you, there are some guidelines you must take into account.
Things to Consider
Whatever your reasons for getting out and moving, there are some things to keep in mind. Smoking can take a toll on joints, so if you are just starting out, select an appropriate difficulty level on the trail.
Smoking while on your hike is not a good idea either because it can make you short of breath. Having to stop the hike to ease your breathing can put a damper on the whole experience. If you do need to smoke, also take note of the following.
Do note that in drought-stricken areas, campfires and smoking may be prohibited altogether. Even a small ember from a dropped cigarette ash or throwing butts on the ground that are not fully extinguished can start a blaze. In 2020, a 300-acre grass fire in Solano Co was caused by a cigarette.
So it is vital that you pay attention to any fire signs and warnings. If smoking is permitted, a travel ashtray with a lid for your cigarette butts will prevent accidental fires and keep flammable litter off the ground. If you plan on lighting any fire, take a safe fire pit. If you don’t have one, do take a look at our review of the Best Portable Fire Pits for Camping in 2022.
Depending on where you are hiking, smoking may be prohibited in the park buildings or common areas for litter control and wildlife health. Cigarette butts can take up to 10 years to decompose in nature. They contain everything that they filter out of cigarette smoke and are toxic to wildlife.
Even worse, UC Berkeley University Health Services reported that smoking-related debris makes up to one-third of all litter found along rivers, streams, and beaches. If you don’t have a travel ashtray, put the butts in your pocket or bag and throw them away later. Those caught littering in national parks can be subject to 6-months in jail and fined.
If the thought of leaving the pack at home makes you cringe, think about using a different nicotine product.
Nicotine lozenges can prevent cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These work well if you like candy. They come in flavors like fruit and mint and are ideal for both heavy and light smokers, with Commit’s nicotine lozenges coming in two strengths: 2mg and 4mg. They can also be easily bought over the counter at a drugstore.
Another alternative to smoking that is rapidly becoming popular is the nicotine pouch. This concept, introduced in 2015, is much like snuff but without the spitting. As with other oral tobacco products, a pouch goes between the upper lip and the gum, where it stays for up to an hour.
Even better, the pouches contain food-grade filler ingredients, flavorings, and nicotine, but no tobacco. They are also sold in a variety of flavors and nicotine strengths. Prilla sells mixpacks from popular brands ZYN, Rogue, and Velo and at different strengths. These are ideal for beginners if you aren’t sure what you will like best.
One of the oldest nicotine replacement therapies is nicotine gum. Chewing nicotine gum does the same thing as lozenges if a candy-like product isn’t for you. Nicotine gum, while not the cheapest, is one of the most recommended nicotine replacement methods on the market. It also comes in 2 and 4 mg strengths for different levels of use.
Generic and brand-name nicotine gum can be purchased at your local drugstore without a prescription. Although less harmful to the environment, all these nicotine alternatives need to be disposed of properly.
Hiking is for everyone, including smokers, and we want you to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. So, grab your hiking kit, and hit that trail. Your attitude will brighten, and you will sleep better, but try to leave the cigarettes at home and follow the above safety and nicotine alternative tips if you can’t.