Image from Centers for Disease Control
November 21 is the official Great American Smokeout Day. This is the day every year in November that all smokers are encouraged to quit smoking. Who succeeds at quitting and who doesn’t? Why can some people quit while others can’t? The answers are not that hard to understand.
Everyone knows the dangers associated with smoking. It is the leading cause of preventable death in this country. It causes 480,000 deaths per year. That translates into one out of every five deaths attributable to smoking! Why is that not enough incentive to make people quit?
People are complicated. They are always doing things that are not good for them or in their best interests. Knowledge does not become action, especially when it comes to an addiction. Smoking is disproportionately a problem in those with less education, those who live below the poverty level, and those with psychiatric problems. The negative impact of smoking hits those groups more than any other. In most respects, those groups are least able to make a change for the better.
Here are the primary reasons why people don’t quit smoking:
- They give up trying after restarting.
- They had no plan to manage cravings that will inevitably occur.
Like most things in life, you need a plan to tackle the hard part. When the going sets tough, the tough will have a plan and make an effort to stick to it. A plan will motivate you to follow a set of tasks to move you in the right direction. Many times, people try to quit without thinking through how they will deal with problems that always arise. Cravings are a problem for everyone and is the biggest reason people either will not try to quit or will go back to smoking. Your plan needs to address the cravings. You can tailor the plan so that it is workable for you. There’s even an app for that. You can find it at the CDC link shown below. The American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites show many ways to help smokers formulate a plan.
The second reason people don’t quit is they stop trying. It is easy to get discouraged and believe that you are the only one who is addicted and that nothing works for you. “It’s useless. I can’t quit”. What this really means is “I give up. I can’t do it”. What smokers don’t know is that it takes an average of six times at quit attempts to finally quit. With each attempt, it gets easier and you move closer to your goal. The key to quitting is to keep quitting until you finally quit. In other words, if you quit enough times, even with restarts, you will eventually be successful. It may be the third time or it could be the eighth time. It varies from person to person. As long as you realize that it is that way for most quitters, then you can rest assured you are not alone. It is true that some can give up smoking on the first try. They are the minority.
Quitting smoking takes work. Get help. Learn as much as you can about the problem. There is no shortage of material out there to get you going. The best sites are listed below with links.
After trying before, one thing is different this time: acceptance of imperfections.
https://www.tnquitline.org/ Every state has a quit line. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW and you will be routed to your state’s quit line.