Contemplating giving up smoking - the first step to quitting.
Giving up smoking is easier said than done. It is true that some smokers, albeit very few, wake up one morning and suddenly decide that they don't want to smoke anymore. They discard their packet of cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays etc. and from that day on, they never touch another cigarette. Only if you are very lucky, will something similar happen to you!
For the majority of people, giving up smoking involves numerous failed attempts, intolerable cravings and withdrawal symptoms, feelings of anger, frustration and ultimately failure, when all the effort and willpower that went into giving up for those few hours, days, weeks or even months, finally breaks, as you give in to just one of the many cravings and light up another one of those forbidden cigarettes.
Smoking was at its highest and most popular around the time of the Second World War and up to the 1960's. Since then, as we have become better informed about the risks of smoking, more and more people have quit the habit and the number of people smoking in developed countries has halved in the last four decades.
However, there has been an enormous rise in the number of people who have started to smoke in other parts of the world, especially in areas of East Asia. Two out of three men in these areas smoke, which is an astounding figure. Undoubtedly, if they were better informed about the health risks of smoking, this figure would not be so high. When questioned about smoking, over 80% were ignorant of the fact that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases.
In the developed world, it is only in recent years that the number of ex-smokers exceeds the number of current smokers.
In the USA the number of smokers has steadily been declining in all age groups since about 1983 and now around 20% of the adult population smoke.
Statistics are similar in the UK. Nowadays just over a quarter of the population smoke, whereas in 1974 around half of the adult population smoked. As smokers get older, they are more likely to think about giving up smoking. This is probably due to the fact that they can see how smoking has affected their health, and not for the better.
If you are a smoker and want to quit smoking, don't worry; you're not the only one. Over 70% of current adult smokers also wish to do so. 60% of them have already tried to quit smoking at least once at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, the success rate is extremely low, thus highlighting exactly how difficult it is to give up smoking and how addictive nicotine really is.
Despite the poor outlook, if you have tried several times to give up and have always failed there is a certain amount of good news. Those who have managed to quit smoking for good, tried to give up on several previous occasions and always relapsed. In fact, around 20% of ex-smokers actually gave up smoking on their first attempt and even 50% of all ex-smokers, only managed to do so after their sixth failed attempt.
With regards to methods used in order to quit smoking, 90% of ex-smokers gave up using their own method, usually "cold turkey", rather than trying smoking cessation aids or joining a stop smoking group.
Although most people try to give up by going "cold turkey" and have a difficult time in doing so, several studies have proven that giving up smoking with the aid of a nicotine replacement therapy product, such as nicotine gum or patches, or other aids, including hypnotherapy or acupuncture, double the chances of successfully quitting smoking.
Reports from the NHS
(National Health Service) in the UK showed that in 2004, 313,100 people joined a smoking cessation group and set a date to stop smoking. Around 80% of them were involved in a programme that used NRT products, 7% were given Zyban
(bupropion) and 1% was treated with both. After a four-week period 170,600 had successfully stopped smoking. This was compared to a figure of 116,200 the previous year.
Virtually all smokers want to quit smoking due to concern for their health or future health. Other reasons include the cost of cigarettes and trying for a baby.
Giving up smoking is not an easy or fast process. There are several stages involved and only those who really want to give up and are ready to do so will be successful.
Studies show that the more prepared a person is to give up smoking, the greater the chances of success.
The first stage in giving up smoking is actually contemplating giving up. Many smokers are at this stage and remain at this stage for a number of years. You smoke but really know that you shouldn't and wish that you could give up. You may even go through a few half-hearted attempts at giving up.
The second stage is when you have finally had enough and decide to do something about it. You are unhappy smoking the amount that you do, you can see that your health is being affected, you can't stand the smell and you just can't believe how expensive cigarettes are.
When you reach this stage, it is really important that you begin to think about properly planning and preparing exactly how and when you are going to give up.
The third stage is where you need to sit down and set a quit date. After this you need to think about which method
you are going to use in order to quit, whether you are going to do it alone or with a friend or member of the family, understand why and when you smoke and how you are going to deal with cravings
and withdrawal symptoms
. This is the planning and preparation stage.
The fourth stage of the cycle is stopping on your set quit date.
And finally, the last stage in the process is making sure that you do not relapse and that you stay an ex-smoker for good.
If you are 100% certain that you are ready to stop smoking for good, read our article
to find out how to plan and prepare for the big event.