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Stop right now

Smokers are unaware of the therapies available to help them quit

For hundreds of thousands of people, the start of the New Year signals yet another attempt to give up smoking and dedicate themselves to a healthier lifestyle. Many smokers triumphantly declare that they plan to kick the habit by simply going cold turkey, a method doomed to failure according to statistics in Tobacco Addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which revealed that only 3 per cent of smokers who attempt to give up unaided are still smoke-free after one year.

New research has revealed that smokers' decisions to stop without the aid of anti-smoking products could be the result of their ignorance about what therapies are available to them.

UK survey SUPPORT (Smoking: Understanding People's Perceptions Opinions and Reactions to Tobacco), conducted by Harris Interactive between August 1 and September 26, 2006, revealed that 83 per cent of smokers surveyed think willpower is all they need to give up.

My advice to smokers is don't try to be superman or superwoman - we know that the majority of smokers need help to stop smoking. This is because nicotine, when inhaled in
smoke, is such an addictive substance, said

Gay Sutherland, honorary consultant clinical psychologist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Smokers Clinic.

You can maximise your chances of stopping and staying stopped by over 300 per cent by asking for help from your GP or the NHS Stop Smoking Services, and by using one of the
effective stop smoking therapies available.

The survey results show that most smokers have tried to quit many times, but typically last only six months before relapsing.

There is even more impetus than ever to quit, with smoke-free legislation already in force in Scotland and soon to be introduced across the UK. Willpower alone is often not enough, said Steve Crone, chief executive at independent charity, QUIT. Over 50 per cent of respondents said that trying to stop smoking was one of the hardest things they had ever tried to do.

To help smokers give up, QUIT has launched a booklet, The New 2007 Quit Guide to Stopping Smoking: So You Want to Quit?, advising people of the best approach to quitting and providing information on the available therapies, including patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays and prescription-only products, such as Zyban and Champix, as well as alternative therapies.

The booklet warns people about the temptation to over-eat, replacing cigarettes with fattening foods, and explains how it is not a good idea to try to stop smoking and diet at the same time, as you are likely to fail at both. In addition, it answers some frequently asked questions, such as how NRT affects diabetics and whether pregnant women can take the drugs.

Separately, with the 2007 quit smoking season well under way, GlaxoSmithKline has launched the Nicorette virtual smoking cessation support programme for pharmacists to offer their customers to help them give up.

Nicorette ActiveStop is the first virtual cessation coach to use both online and mobile technology to help smokers stop. Users receive personalised support via their mobile phone and web page to cope with their smoking triggers, outlined at the start of a 14-week programme.

17th January 2007

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