Does licking salt help quit smoking? Viral claim debunked

A post claims that licking salt can help people quit smoking within a month by reducing their urge to smoke.

By Sunanda Naik  Published on  28 Sep 2022 2:30 PM GMT
Does licking salt help quit smoking? Viral claim debunked

A post claims that licking salt can help people quit smoking within a month by reducing their urge to smoke.

The caption of the viral post reads, 'Lick a little salt with the tip of your tongue whenever you feel the urge to smoke. This is said to break the habit within one month.'

You can view the post here and here.

We also found the same post on media organisations like Hindustan Times and Medical Daily.

Quitting smoking is not easy at all, but it's definitely worth it! Just remember, it's never too late to start.

There are a number of ways one can quit smoking, but can licking salt help in quitting smoking? Let's fact check.

Fact Check

NewsMeter could not find any study or research done on the efficacy of licking salt to quit smoking.

Rather, we found a study that says, 'Is too much salt harmful? Yes'

Sodium plays a central role in human physiology- it maintains and regulates extracellular body fluid volume and blood pressure (BP), they added.

The study concludes that 'Despite some methodological shortcomings in estimating/measuring dietary salt intake and some conflicting results, there is plenty of evidence of the detrimental effect of high salt intake on human health, particularly cardiovascular disease. In the authors' view, even healthy adults and children should adhere to international proposals on salt reduction—regardless of how much they benefit from it. According to worldwide surveys, the average of daily salt intake is 10 g with most of it coming from processed food. This highlights the regrettable fact that consumers can barely exercise control over their salt intake. This is particularly important for certain populations who are considered to be salt-sensitive (e.g., African Americans, elderly people, obese people, patients with hypertension, or perinatal complications) and in whom salt restriction would be more likely beneficial from adherence to recommendations.'

Moving further, a study by National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests some treatments that support tobacco cessation, including both behavioural therapies and FDA-approved medications. The study talks about Behavioural therapies such as-

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy,

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • Mindfulness,

  • Telephone support and quit lines

  • Text messaging web-based services, and social media support.

It also mentions the mediational help one could access-

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

  • Bupropion

  • Varenicline

Digging deep, we found an archived article by WebMD which entirely contradicts the claim of the viral post.

According to the article, 'Cutting U.S. salt intake by just half a teaspoon a day would prevent up to 92,000 deaths, 99,000 heart attacks, and 66,000 strokes -- a benefit as big as smoking cessation. That's the prediction from computer models that used real clinical data to predict the effects of small reductions in salt intake.'

"The [heart] benefits of reduced salt intake are on par with the benefits of population-wide reductions in tobacco use, obesity, and cholesterol levels," says Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD

Hence, there is no evidence found to back the claim. The claim is false.

Claim Review:Licking salt help quit smoking.
Claimed By:Social Media Users
Claim Reviewed By:NewsMeter
Claim Source:Social media
Claim Fact Check:False
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