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Med Clin North Am. 1992 Mar; 76(2): 451-76.

Methods of smoking cessation.

Schwartz JL.

University of California, Davis.

Smoking-cessation treatment consists of three phases: preparation, intervention, and maintenance. Preparation aims to increase the smoker's motivation to quit and to build confidence that he or she can be successful. Intervention can take any number of forms (or a combination of them) to help smokers to achieve abstinence. Maintenance, including support, coping strategies, and substitute behaviors, is necessary for permanent abstinence. Although most smokers who successfully quit do so on their own, many use cessation programs at some point during their smoking history. Moreover, many people act on the advice of a health professional in deciding to quit. Some are also aided by a smoking-cessation kit from a public or voluntary agency, a book, a tape, or an over-the-counter product. Still others receive help from mass-media campaigns, such as the Great American Smokeout, or community programs. Counseling, voluntary and commercial clinics, nicotine replacement strategies, hypnosis, acupuncture, and behavioral programs are other methods used by smokers to break the habit. Programs that include multiple treatments are more successful than single interventions. The most cost-effective strategy for smoking cessation for most smokers is self-care, which includes quitting on one's own and might also include acting on the advice of a health profession or using an aid such as a quit-smoking guide. Heavier, more addicted smokers are more likely to seek out formal programs after several attempts to quit. Many people can quit smoking, but staying off cigarettes requires maintenance, support, and additional techniques, such as relapse prevention. Physicians, dentists, and other health professionals can provide important assistance to their patients who smoke. Quit rates can be improved if clinicians provide more help (e.g., counseling, support) than just simple advice and warnings. Clinicians also play an important role in providing nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum or transdermal patches. These products are particularly useful for smokers who show evidence of strong physiologic addiction to nicotine. Attitudes toward smoking have shifted dramatically. In the 1950s, fewer than 50% of American adults believed that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer. In 1986, this proportion had increased to 92%. A majority of the public favors policies restricting smoking in public places and worksites. Half of all Americans who ever smoked had stopped smoking by 1988. Of those who continue to smoke, more than 70% report that they would like to quit. By increasing their knowledge about smoking-cessation methods, health professionals can support and encourage the large majority of smokers who want to quit.

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