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National Survey Shows It Takes Smokers an Average 11 Attempts Before They Quit for Good.

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 11, 1998--Data from a national poll conducted by the Hazelden Foundation show how challenging it is for smokers to give up their habit. On average, it took former smokers 18.6 years before they finally quit. The average former smoker tried to quit 10.8 times before he or she was able to abstain from smoking tobacco products.

The poll also indicates that two-thirds of current smokers (66.8 percent) have seriously tried to quit smoking at least once. On average, current smokers said they have tried 3.4 times to give up their habit.

"These numbers reflect the serious nature of nicotine addiction," said Elliott Driscoll, manager of smoking cessation services for Hazelden New York. "Nicotine is a powerful drug, just like alcohol or heroin, and those who want to quit often relapse in spite of their good intentions."

According to current smokers, stress was the primary obstacle to quitting for good (28.7 percent). Other respondents said they like to smoke too much (12.0 percent) or the craving was too strong (12.0 percent). Far fewer cited weight gain as a concern (5.4 percent) or said it's too late (0.6 percent).

"One of the keys to treating nicotine addiction is to identify what is preventing the smoker from quitting for good," said Driscoll. "If stress or pressure causes the smoker to relapse, he or she needs to find other ways to cope, whether it's exercise or reaching out to friends for support."

What Motivates Smokers to Quit?

According to former smokers, health reasons or a major health episode finally prompted them to quit (53.0 percent). Family pressure was not as effective (11.6 percent), nor was choosing to quit at a particular time of year such as Lent or New Year's (0.0 percent).

"Clearly, education is the key to preventing people from starting to smoke and encouraging current smokers to quit," said Driscoll. "According to the Centers for Disease Control, advice from health care providers to quit smoking increases cessation rates by 30 percent. That would go a long way towards fighting the nicotine epidemic we're seeing in our country."

How Do Smokers to Quit?

Among current smokers, the most frequently tried method of quitting is gradually smoking fewer and fewer cigarettes before giving it up completely (an average of 3.9 times). Other popular smoking cessation techniques include switching to lighter cigarettes before quitting completely (an average of 2.6 times) or going cold turkey (an average of 2.6 times). These methods were followed by support groups in popularity: an informal support group of friends (2.4 times); help from one other friend also trying to quit (2.3 times); and formal support groups such as Nicotine Anonymous (1.9 times). Nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum (1.7 times) and a nicotine patch (1.6 times) were lower on the list.

A majority of former smokers cited going cold turkey as the method they used to finally quit smoking (60.2 percent). The nicotine patch (4.0 percent) and nicotine gum (1.6 percent) were used by a significantly smaller number of former smokers. Only 2 percent of former smokers finally gave up their habit by gradually smoking fewer and fewer cigarettes before giving it up completely. Another 2 percent of smokers said they finally gave it up because it became too expensive to smoke.

"Obviously, there are many different ways to go about quitting, and no one single treatment method will be successful for every smoker," said Driscoll. "However, we do know that counseling is key to recovery from other addictions, and it enhances the clinical success of nicotine replacement therapies such as the patch. Smokers who recognize the addiction they have to nicotine will be more likely to quit smoking once and for all."

Other Findings

-- Almost 1 in 5 current smokers (18.2 percent) have tried to hide

the fact that they smoke as an adult. Most tried to hide it from

their family members (81.3 percent). Almost 30 percent tried to

hide it from their employers or coworkers (29.7 percent). -- Women (25.3 percent) were more likely to hide their smoking habit

than men (10.4 percent). o Smokers ages 18-34 were more likely to

hide it than older smokers (29.6 percent). -- Current smokers (80.0 percent) were less likely to see smoking as

a health hazard than former smokers (92.8 percent).

About Hazelden

The Hazelden Foundation is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization providing treatment, education, prevention and professional services in chemical dependency and related addictive disorders. Hazelden has been helping people recover from the disease of alcohol and drug dependency since 1949. Recognized throughout the world as a leader and often a role model for other treatment centers, Hazelden offers individualized information, education and clinical services throughout the recovery process. Hazelden tailors specific recovery programs for men, women, adolescents, young adults and older adults in its regional sites in Minnesota, West Palm Beach, Fla., New York and Chicago.

Hazelden New York opened its doors in 1992 as a not-for-profit facility providing treatment for addiction to alcohol or other drugs. The Manhattan facility offers adults 18 and older a full continuum of care including assessment, residential, outpatient and family services.

About the Survey

This telephone survey, conducted for Hazelden by Bruskin Goldring, polled a nationwide sample of 500 current and former smokers. For more information about the details of the Hazelden survey results, contact Jeff Moravec at 651-213-4228 or Leah Kondes at 612-841-6115.
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