Emory Report

October 26, 1998

 Volume 51, No. 9


Survey shows confusion, loss of ritual limit smokers trying to quit

Nearly 70 percent of smokers want to stop smoking and have tried to do so an average of 5.3 times each, but they clearly do not understand the most effective means of quitting, according to a national survey by the American Lung Association and Yankelovich Partners. What's more, those surveyed pinpointed key behavioral and emotional aspects of smoking that undermined their attempts to quit.

The nationwide query of 1,001 smokers found that three-quarters of them attempted to quit "cold turkey"--the least successful method, according to studies. Despite a variety of innovative treatments, almost 40 percent of smokers said they are confused about the products available to them. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of all smokers incorrectly believed nicotine causes cancer.

The survey also offered a valuable glimpse into the behavior and emotions that present obstacles to successfully overcoming cigarette addiction. Smokers most often claimed they relapsed after quitting because they missed the rituals of smoking such as "having something to hold" (33 percent) and "having something to do with my hands" (21 percent).

While one-third of all smokers cited "health concerns" as their main motive for trying to quit, the same percentage also said they went back to smoking because of "stress and nerves." Contrary to popular belief, weight gain was cited by only 4 percent of smokers as a primary reason for resuming the habit.

The importance of the hand-to-mouth smoking ritual was especially evident for an overwhelming 80 percent of smokers who said they found themselves looking for something to put in their mouths to recapture the comfort and distraction cigarettes used to provide.

In response to this information, the American Lung Association has created a quit-smoking action plan based on a consensus of smoking cessation experts. The plan assists smokers in creating a personalized cessation goals and includes a chart of all available FDA-approved products that help people quit smoking and explains the pros and cons of each.

The Lung Association's "Freedom From Smoking" clinic is a comprehensive program using group support and behavior modification in helping to quit, and Emory Well House offers "Freedom from Smoking" meetings on a regular basis. For more information about the program and meeting times call 404-778-7777. To find out more about American Lung Association of Georgia programs and services, call 770-434-5864 or visit their web site at <http://www.lungasn.org>.


Founded in 1904 to combat tuberculosis, the American Lung Association now fights a variety of lung diseases and is the oldest voluntary health agency in the United States."Wellness" is coordinated by the Office of Health Promotion in the School of Public Health. For more information call 404-727-2853 or visit their web site at <www.sph.emory.edu/WELLNESS>.

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