Tomorrow is the 25th Annual Great American Smokeout. Many people and organizations see the Great American Smokeout as a time to heightened awareness to the importance of quitting and thus a valuable time to start a quit. I on the other hand see it as a time where I must be ever more vigilant with my successful clinic graduates and in fact I often try to steer clear of offering clinics during the specific week. While most would think the heightened awareness is a good thing-it often brings out some of the most blatant campaigns of misinformation out there.
I actually worked for the American Cancer Society when the Smokeout was first created. This predated NRT products so I can't even say my feelings in this matter are based on the blitz of promotion and information put out by the pharmacological companies. Back then it was the major health organizations and the state of the art programs themselves that would advocate cut down programs and psychological issues totally missing the point of addiction. This of course was understandable considering at that time no major medical organizations were yet recognizing that cigarette smoking was a true form of drug addiction.
So here I would be doing clinics and programs teaching the participants that they were nicotine addicts and the media would be blitzing them with materials contradicting that nicotine was an addiction and trying to teach them how to gradually cut down.
Generally if I waited to start my clinics until a week after the Smokeout, I was better able to point out the limitations of the information they were getting a week earlier through the media in a few minutes-without having to sit and debate and defend my feelings on the matter day after day as more and more materials were being discussed leading up to the event. Usually within a day or two of the Smokeout it was pretty much gone and forgotten with not much follow-up coverage.
Today, besides having the professional health organizations trying to promote the event, you have the pharmaceutical companies also using the Smokeout to plug their products. The media often looks for quotes and catchy stories to boost the event, but most of these quotes will come from people who "think" that the state of the art programs are actually the most successful ways people can quit. After all, they are the state of the art programs, aren't they? I suspect you will hear a lot this week of how NRT will double your chance of success.
Well I am here to tell you that if you quit smoking cold-turkey and you never take another puff, you have a 100% chance of success. Can taking nicotine into your body via another route double that chance? No it cannot, not in any way, shape or form.
Everyone here has to know that they are drug addicts and to stay free is contingent on never administering nicotine again-not from cigarettes, cigars or pipes, not from chewing tobacco or snuff, not from nicotine laced products like inhalers, patches, gums, lozenges, or drops.
We are not just talking about not taking these products on special days like the day of a Smokeout, or New Years, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or Memorial Day, or Independence Day, any other holiday or special occasion that marks a new day or special day. Holidays and special days are no different than any other of the 365 days that occur in any year when it comes to drug addiction. They must all be treated the same-to overcome the passing of every 24 hour period for successfully smoke free entails always understanding that you must never take another puff!
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