Smoking Programs Yield Disappointing Results

Smoking cessation programs not effective

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Quitting smoking is a real challenge. Despite numerous treatments and new laws, the number of people actually quitting has not met anyone's expectations.

A new review of smoking cessation has shown lower-than-expected numbers when it comes to people quitting smoking.

Despite major advances in public health in regards to treatment and education, the amount of people quitting successfully has not improved, and the study calls for a review of smoking cessation programs.

"Ask your doctor which smoking program is best for you. "

The study was led by John P. Pierce, Ph.D., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and director of Population Sciences at University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Researchers looked over two decades worth of smoking cessation data to determine why the number of smokers who quit have stalled.

Quitting smoking is difficult and is a public health issue. Laws have been put into place that ban smoking in bars and restaurants, every state has free telephone counseling and some insurance policies cover quitting programs in order to help smokers quit.

In addition to those policies, states have run ad campaigns educating smokers on the dangers of cigarettes.

Another way states have tried to get smokers to quit has been by increasing the cost of cigarettes through taxes.

The researchers feel that the cessation programs are not the reason for the low rate of quitting. Many of the programs have been quite successful in clinical trials.

One study involving heavier smokers were more successful quitting with the help of a doctor monitoring their progress according to co-author Sharon Cummins, Ph.D., director of Evaluation with the California Smokers Helpline.

While the number of smokers who have tried to quit has increased, the proportion of people who have successfully quit has not increased. One reason why these programs may not be as successful may be due to advertising.

Pharmaceutical companies advertise quitting smoking, via patches or gum, to be a simple process. The advertising leads smokers that quitting smoking is as easy as applying a patch.

There is a misunderstanding about how difficult quitting really is thus leading to people quit unsuccessfully.

Smokers who quit are usually very motivated to quit. Many successful quitters have done so without assistance because they want to and believe they can quit.

Researchers fear that the push for aiding individuals in their efforts to quit may actually undermine the smokers own belief in their attempt. This can lead to a smoker having doubts which can lead to an unsuccessful attempt at quitting.

The researchers called for a review on public policies in order to see what can be done to improve the number of successful attempts at quitting smoking.

Some of the oldest beliefs about successful ways to quit smoking still hold true. Acting quickly once a smoker makes the decision to quit, understanding how dangerous just one cigarette can be while trying to quit and making a personal commitment to someone, like a family member, can increase the chances for success. 

The study was funded by Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. No known conflicts were published.

This study was published in 2012 edition of the Annual Review of Public Health.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 18, 2012
Last Updated:
January 19, 2012