Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quitting Smoking: Why Willpower Isn't Enough

In rain or snow, they are castigated to standing outdoors in designated smoking areas. Still, they are resilient. They puff and puff, in the face of their chronic cough. Ineligible for many jobs, and confronted with patronizing lectures every doctor visit, they smoke on, in spite of each mounting societal pressure to quit.
Smokers these days have every reason to stop. In fact, two-thirds of smokers want to quit, and more than half have tried before. So, why do smokers subject themselves to preventable forms of cancer and heart disease, and perpetuate such a terrible practice?
There’s a simple explanation for the smoker’s paradox: most smokers today light up because are addicts.
“Smoking is more than a habit. It is a true addiction and we need to acknowledge it as such,” said Veda Peters from the British Columbia Lung Association.
Public health campaigns labeling smoking as a choice or habit can be credited drastically cut cigarette use. In 1965, 42 percent of Americans smoked. In 2010, the CDC reported that more than half that number (about 20 percent) still smoked, after decades of insurmountable evidence that smoking kills.

Those who can quit easily have done so already, making federal and social policies to curb smoking (like higher taxes and further restrictions) less effective now. Research demonstrates that smokers are more likely to get treatment and stay tobacco-free once they view smoking as an addiction rather than a matter of willpower.