While it takes the average smoker multiple attempts to quit smoking, we know that quitting smoking is possible. In fact, there are more former smokers today than current smokers.
Why is quitting smoking such a challenge? While the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are well known by most smokers, the social and behavior challenges associated with quitting are not as well known. Some smokers, especially those who have tried to quit in the past, will know about experienced social and behavioral factors.
Smoking: A Social Activity
Smoking can be a social activity. It’s common to see a group of smokers together: friends or coworkers take smoke breaks at the same time each day, partners smoke and organize their homes around it.
When trying to leave cigarettes behind, quitters should avoid potential triggers: the people, places and activities that remind them of smoking. But this means that for many, quitting smoking can be a lonely experience.
However, it has been shown that the support of partners can help people quit. In a national survey of American smokers, 80% who are trying to quit said support from others would be very important to their quit smoking success.
A Network of Support
Friends and family can help in many ways. They can help quitters plan new activities that do not trigger smoking (such as going out for smoothies instead of a cup of coffee). They can keep quitters’ spirits up and remind them of all the reasons to quit smoking. If they have a slip-up, they can motivate them to continue their quit. Having a strong support network can make a difference in a quitter’s next attempt.
Besides friends and family, healthcare providers are also critical in a quit journey. Support from a healthcare provider that includes counseling and medication can double your chances of quitting. Healthcare providers can provide helpful tips, motivation and resources to help smokers give up cigarettes. They may provide advice on building a quit plan, offer methods to help prevent slip-ups and provide counseling or recommend medication if they feel it is appropriate. With all this in mind, it’s important that a smoker prepare for their quit by building a support network of friends, family and a healthcare provider.
There are also a number of online tools and resources that can help support a quit attempt. Mobile apps such as Quitter's Circle, developed by the American Lung Association and Pfizer, enable quitters to form support networks with their friends and family, personalize a quit plan and connect with a healthcare provider for support.
Quitting smoking does not have to be done alone. With the help of others, the quit journey can be a success and lead smokers to smokefree futures.
Chetna Bhattacharyya, MD, is a Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Pfizer
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