Great American Smokeout Hijacked
When the American Cancer Society held the first Smokeout in 1976 it was to make smokers aware of the importance of quitting, to provide a firm date for getting started, and to share literature on how to succeed. Twenty-six Smokouts later it has been transformed from a national quitting day into a day for selling new methods to replace the nicotine within the bodies of those addicted to it.
(PRWEB) November 12 2003--The 27th Great American Smokeout is this Thursday, November 20. If you are a smoker then get ready to be bombarded by a flood of
nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) commercials. They'll likely imply that quitting cold turkey requires mountains of willpower or Herculean strength.
They'll tell you that by buying and using the nicotine gum, patch, lozenge or inhaler that you won't have to be some super hero to quit.
Even while unknowingly inviting the fox (nicotine) into the hen house (filled with nicotine addicts), a 1997 American Cancer Society press release assured the world that its new NRT pharmaceutical industry partnership was toward "efforts to expand its education of products and methods relevant to smoking cessation."
A visit to the American Cancer Society's online "Guide for Quitting Smoking" reveals just how far education expansion has come. Visitors will find 250 lines of type devoted to a growing array of NRT products, followed by one lone vague reference to quitting cold turkey.
Once the staple of quitting and cornerstone of the Society's cessation program, the sale of its trusted name and logo to NRT pharmaceutical interests may have brought it millions of dollars but not without cost.
This week we'll likely again watch as its name and credibility is invoked in a cold turkey bashing campaign designed to cause those addicted to nicotine to shy away from their natural inclinations.
Pharmaceutical industry literature, websites and commercials proclaim that few cold turkey quitters succeed and that the gum, patch or lozenge has been proven to double your chances of quitting for good. But is it true?
Are cold turkey success stories few and far between? Are most successful quitters quitting with the help of the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge?
Not according to Joel Spitzer, a 26 year Chicago quitting programs director and director of education at the internet's oldest cold turkey quitting forum, hosted by WhyQuit.com. "Contrary to the bill of goods being sold to smokers, most quitters are still quitting cold turkey and more importantly the vast majority of successful quitters also quit by going cold turkey," says Spitzer.
Surprisingly, the Society's own research appears to support Spitzer's contentions. Surrounded by almost mandatory NRT use recommendations, page 25 of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures 2003 report contains a table indicating that 81% of current quitters and 91.2% of former successful quitters quit entirely on their own without any resort to quitting aids.
"Save your hard earned money," says Spitzer, "quitting should cost you nothing. Don't trust me but instead do your own survey by talking to family and trusted friends who have successfully have been off of all nicotine products for at least a year. Ask them how they did it."
If 91.2% of successful quitters did not use the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, hypnosis, acupuncture, Zyban, Wellbutrin, Smoke-Away, magic herbs or any formal quitting program, what are their secrets, why are they not being shared and why constantly undermine the world's most productive means of quitting?
"Most people succeed by coming to grips with the idea that to stay smoke-free they cannot take a puff on a cigarette," says Spitzer. "Try to find one person who once had quit but are now smokers again who didn't take a puff. Finding one such person is going to take you the rest of your life."
There have been a few important study developments since the last Smokeout that quitters might want to contrast with the American Cancer Society's website assertion that "about 5%--16% of people are able to quit smoking for at least 6 months without any medicine to help with withdrawal."
A March 2003 study published in Tobacco Control combined and averaged the results of all seven over-the-counter nicotine patch and gum studies and found that only 7% of participants had not relapsed to smoking within six months. But it might be even worse.
A just released November study, also published in Tobacco Control, found that as many as 7% of all nicotine gum users and 2% of patch users are still using NRT at six-months. When combined, the two studies present a legitimate concern - are any gum users actually breaking free from nicotine while using it?
"Historically, the literature has seldom examined dependence on NRT," asserts the November study whose primary authors were Saul Shiffman of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. J.R. Hughes of the University of Vermont. "We estimate that 36.6% of current gum users are engaged in persistent use."
Confused yet? Don't feel alone. As the November study suggests, part of the variance stems from the fact that NRT studies defined quitting as quitting smoking but not necessarily breaking nicotine's grip.
If you've already given your share of quick-fix magic cures a try, you may want to consider an invitation to return to the Smokeout's 1976 roots -- a day to quit, actually quitting for a day, and reading some solid nicotine dependency recovery information.
Marty, a London, England ex-smoker of three years recently extended a caring hand across an ocean of doubt and denial in posting a Smokeout invitation to Americans. "One day, one moment, one simple decision was all it took to change my life forever ... one simple click to WhyQuit.com.
Another online quitter of a year and a half, Alyson from Brooklyn, New York, shared Marty's invite in asking that you reflect upon whether "you smoke because you want to or because you have to?" "Try not smoking for a day to find out," encourages Alyson.
According to Spitzer, "our members and the vast majority of long-term ex-smokers have learned what they need to do to successfully stay smoke-free which is simply knowing to never take another puff!"
About the Author: John R. Polito is a South Carolina nicotine cessation educator and the 1999 founder of www.WhyQuit.com