If you’ve never been hiking before, the idea may sound intimidating and physically overwhelming. For smokers especially, hiking can seem like a more intense physical activity than your respiratory system can handle. Yet aside from being a great workout, there are other benefits of hiking that can improve your quality of life. For one, hiking is a great stress reliever, helping you improve your emotional balance and mental health. Hiking is also a great way to spend time with friends and loved ones — having a unified goal on a hike can strengthen relationships and improve your problem-solving skills as a group.
That being said, hiking or backpacking as a smoker will certainly be different compared to a non-smoker’s hiking experience. If you’re interested in trying hiking in the future, this post will be a helpful hiking and backpacking etiquette guide for smokers.
Be considerate and responsible
If the area you plan on hiking through doesn’t have smoking rules or laws, it’s still important to be considerate and responsible as a smoker. When hiking with a partner or a group, for example, be sure to ask if they’re alright with you smoking along the way or at your campsite. Most non-smokers are averse to cigarette smoke and the odor they leave behind, so lighting a cigarette without ensuring they’re okay with it can ruin their hiking experience.
Most importantly, be sure to practice fire safety when smoking on the trail. Littering your cigarette butts can be a fire hazard: leaves or grass can catch fire from their combustible remains, especially if you don’t put them out properly. Additionally, it’s crucial that you dispose of your cigarette butts in the right places to reduce harm to the environment. Cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable and can even endanger wildlife in the area, so keep yours on hand until you reach the nearest trash can.
Switch to smoke-free products
Some places have strict laws against cigarette smoking for hikers and backpackers, so you may have to leave your pack home. However, smoking withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea can risk your safety as you hike. To avoid this, consider using alternative nicotine products like pouches and lozenges to cope. The smoke-free nicotine pouches stocked on Prilla go between your gum and upper lip for up to an hour. They’re also spitless and odorless — great for places where the use of traditional tobacco products is frowned upon. Meanwhile, nicotine lozenges are much like regular lozenges. When placed in your mouth, they dissolve in around 20 to 30 minutes, relieving short-term cigarette cravings.
Pouches and lozenges can also be great for hikes because they don’t have the same environmental impact as cigarettes. Most nicotine pouches are sold in tin cans for easy storage and disposal. Some pouch containers even have built-in waste compartments that you can empty and clean out at the end of the day. On the other hand, nicotine lozenges are edible — so you don’t need to worry about how to dispose of them on your hike.
Treat hiking as exercise
Finally, even if you aren’t planning on quitting smoking anytime soon, treating your hiking trip as exercise can significantly improve your experience. On top of improving your mood and well-being and alleviating anxiety and depression, exercise also significantly reduces the mortality of smokers. It’s even considered a smoking cessation alternative, as it helps your cardiovascular and respiratory systems recover from the negative effects of cigarettes.
Additionally, our beginner’s guide to hiking notes that good fitness is essential if you want to enjoy hiking. Treating hiking as exercise can thus help counter the harms of smoking to your body and prepare you for a more pleasant hiking experience. You can also indulge in other sports like football, soccer, and baseball to build a basic level of endurance before your first trek. If you’re not into contact sports, try lighter exercises such as yoga and meditation to be more attuned to your body.
Trail Etiquette for Smokers – Final Thoughts
While hiking and backpacking may not be for everyone, you shouldn’t be deterred just because you smoke cigarettes. Just keep in mind to be courteous to other hikers in your group, especially if they are non-smokers, and to be respectful of the environment you’re hiking in. Bringing smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes can also help you better respect your surroundings and manage withdrawal symptoms that may affect your hiking experience. Most importantly, hiking is a great way to get some physical exercise to keep your body healthy as a smoker.