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Stop smoking support programs

Definition

It is hard to quit smoking if you are acting alone. Smokers usually have a much better chance of quitting with a support program. Stop smoking programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, work sites, and national organizations.

Patient Education Video: Smoking tips to quit

Alternative Names

Smokeless tobacco - stop smoking programs; Stop smoking techniques; Smoking cessation programs; Smoking cessation techniques

Information

You can find out about smoking cessation programs from:

  • Your health care provider or local hospital
  • Your health insurance plan
  • Your employer
  • Your local health department
  • The National Cancer Institute Quitline at 877-448-7848
  • The American Cancer Society Quitline at 800-227-2345
  • The American Lung Association www.lung.org/quit-smoking/join-freedom-from-smoking, which has online and phone advice programs
  • State programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

The best smoking cessation programs combine numerous approaches and target the fears and problems you have when quitting. They also provide ongoing support for staying away from tobacco.

Be wary of programs that:

  • Are short and offer no help over time
  • Charge a high fee
  • Offer supplements or pills that are only available through the program
  • Promise an easy path to quitting

TELEPHONE-BASED HELP

Telephone-based services can help you design a stop smoking program that meets your needs. These services are easy to use. The counselors can help you avoid common mistakes. This kind of support can be as effective as face-to-face counseling.

Telephone programs are often available on nights and weekends. Trained counselors will help you set up a support network for quitting and help you decide which stop smoking aids to use. Choices may include:

  • Medicines
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Support programs or classes

SUPPORT GROUPS

Let your friends, family, and coworkers know of your plans to stop smoking and your quit date. It helps for people around you to be aware of what you are going through, especially when you are grumpy.

You may also want to seek out other types of support, such as:

  • Your family doctor or nurse.
  • Groups of ex-smokers.
  • Nicotine Anonymous (www.nicotine-anonymous.org). This organization uses a similar approach as Alcoholics Anonymous. As part of this group, you will be asked to admit that you are powerless over your addiction to nicotine. Also, a sponsor is often available to help you get through urges to smoke.

SMOKING PROGRAMS AND CLASSES

Stop smoking programs can also help you find a quitting method that suits your needs. They will help you be aware of problems that come up while you're trying to quit and offer tools to cope with these problems. These programs can help you avoid making common mistakes.

Programs may either have one-on-one sessions or group counseling. Some programs offer both. Programs should be run by counselors who are trained to help people quit smoking.

Programs that provide more sessions or longer sessions have a better chance of success. The American Cancer Society recommends programs with the following features:

  • Each session lasts at least 15 to 30 minutes.
  • There are at least 4 sessions.
  • The program lasts at least 2 weeks, although longer is usually better.
  • The leader is trained in smoking cessation.

Internet-based programs are also becoming more available. These services send you personalized reminders using e-mail, texting, or other methods.

References

American Cancer Society website. How to quit using tobacco. www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking.html. Accessed March 23, 2023.

George TP. Nicotine and tobacco. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 29.

Smokefree.gov website. Quit smoking. smokefree.gov/quit-smoking. Accessed March 23, 2023.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant persons: interventions. US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/tobacco-use-in-adults-and-pregnant-women-counseling-and-interventions. Updated January 19, 2021. Accessed March 23, 2023.

Last reviewed February 28, 2023 by Jacob Berman, MD, MPH, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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