Like any addiction, quitting tobacco is difficult, especially if you are acting alone. Most smokers find it hard to break all the habits or ties they've built into their lives around smoking.
By using smoking cessation programs, smokers may have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, work sites, and national organizations.
The best quit-smoking programs combine multiple strategies.
All smoking cessation programs need to address and provide ongoing support for the many fears and difficulties you can encounter when quitting tobacco products.
Be wary of programs that:
Are short and offer no help over time
Charge a high fee
Offer supplements or pills that are only available from the program
Promise an easy path to quitting
Telephone counseling services are easy-to-use programs that can help you design a stop smoking program that works best for you. They can help you avoid making common mistakes.
Stop smoking telephone support can be a very helpful reinforcement, even as effective as face-to-face counseling.
Telephone programs are usually available nights and weekends. Trained counselors will help you decide whether you need medications, nicotine replacement therapy, and support programs or classes. They will help you set up a support network in your effort to quit cigarettes and tobacco.
A number of different telephone counseling smoking cessation programs are available or may be recommended by:
Your local hospital or your physician
Your health insurance plan
The National Cancer Institute's 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669)
The American Cancer Society's Quitline at 800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)
The American Lung Association, which has online and phone advice programs
All 50 states and the District of Columbia run some type of free telephone-based program
Let all of your friends, family, and coworkers know of your plan to stop smoking and your quit date. Just being aware that they know what you're going through can be helpful - especially when you are grumpy.
However, you may want to seek out other types of support, such as:
Your family doctor or nurse
Groups of ex-smokers
Nicotine Anonymous, an organization that uses a similar approach as Alcoholics Anonymous. As part of this group, you will be asked to admit that you are powerless over your addiction to nicotine. Also, a sponsor is often available over the long-term to talk when you have the temptation to smoke.
Check with your employer, health insurance plan, or health care provider about different types of support groups. Check the website of the American Cancer Society or American Lung Association for additional resources.
STOP SMOKING PROGRAMS AND CLASSES
Stop smoking programs also help you design an approach that works best for you. They will help you be more aware of problems that come up while you're trying to quit, and then give you tools to cope with these problems. They can help you avoid making common mistakes as you try to quit smoking.
Programs may either have one-on-one sessions or group counseling, or sometimes a combination of the two. Programs should be run by counselors who are trained in smoking cessation.
Programs that provide more counseling sessions or longer sessions have a better chance of success. The American Cancer Society recommends programs with the following:
Each session lasts at least 15 - 30 minutes
There are at least four sessions
The program lasts at least 2 weeks -- longer is usually better
The leader is trained in smoking cessation
Hospitals, employers, and health insurance plans all may provide this service. You can also call the local chapter of the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, or your local health department.
Increasingly, Internet-based programs are becoming available. They may send personalized reminders using e-mail, texting, or other methods.
Hays JT, Ebbert JO, Sood A. Treating tobacco dependence in the light of the 2008 US Department of Health and Human Services clinical practice guideline. May Clin Proc. 2009;84:730-735.
Kealey KA, Ludman EJ, Marek PM, Mann SL, Bricker JB, Peterson AV. Design and implementation of an effective telephone counseling intervention for adolescent smoking cessation. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101:1393-1405.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:551-555.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.