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Letter to the editor:

Quitting smoking? Go cold turkey

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 (2:01 a.m.)

Cy Ryan’s March 19 online article, “TV ad campaign aimed at curbing tobacco use,” reviews the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new hard-hitting quit-smoking campaign, which uses tragic tobacco-victim stories to motivate cessation. It’d be great if the campaign could reduce Nevada’s 3,300 annual smoking-related deaths or its 21 percent smoking rate, but it’s unlikely.

It isn’t that fear can’t motivate. It’s the failure of CDC to immediately channel that fear into a meaningful cessation opportunity. The new campaign pipelines motivated smokers to either SmokeFree.gov or 800-QUIT-NOW, where the primary objective is to get smokers to obtain and use the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, spray, inhaler, Zyban or Chantix.

While approved quitting products clobber placebo controls in random clinical trials, they get clobbered by cold-turkey quitters in real-world population level studies. Current U.S. cessation policy has been heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2000, U.S. cessation policy has stressed “medication” for “all” quitters unless contraindicated.

More Nevada long-term smokers quit smoking cold turkey each year than by all other methods combined. Sadly, the quitting-with-medication era, with its false “double your chances” promise, has brought successful cessation to its knees.

What sense does it make for the CDC to continue to discourage quitting cold turkey? The CDC either needs to suspend current cessation policy or clean house, employing a cessation team that doesn’t behave like pharmaceutical industry employees.

The author is a nicotine cessation educator and director of WhyQuit.com.

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Discussion: 10 comments so far…

  1. Smoking is a mental condition. The brain needs the nicotine jolt, or it rebels. Speaking as a layman, and not an expert, I would also suggest that people who suffer from addictive/compulsive behavior traits are more likely to smoke than those who don't. Compulsive gambling, alcoholism, smoking are all addictive/compulsive behaviors. The cost of a carton of cigarettes is $52.00 or more in most retail outlets here in Vegas. It doesn't prevent people in all socioeconomic conditions from continuing to smoke. I've seen people toting around oxygen tanks lite up while engaged in mindlessly pumping money into slot machines and sipping their "free" cocktails: The poster child of addictive/compulsive behavior. I suppose banning tobacco outright would set off all the folks who don't want to be told how to live or what they can or cannot do. The casinos continue to allow smoking in the gaming areas because they know the economic impact to their bottom line if they don't.

  2. "Quitting smoking is easy; I've done it hundreds of times." Mark Twain. The gentleman is correct - "Cold Turkey" is the only way to finally break the mean & nasty, life-shortening habit & addiction. I ought to know. I quit more years ago than many of you have been alive. But there is another facet to quitting and that is when you really want to and are not just spouting BS about doing so. No one else can make you or do it for you and all of the "aids" in quitting are useless until you make the hard decision and mean it.

  3. I tried cold turkey and didn't succeed. Years after did with the patch within three months I was free from smoking . Almost 10 years without smoking. What ever it takes is a healthy decision.

  4. No amount of scary commercials, or the cost of cigarettes will make someone quit. A person has to WANT to quit to do so.

    Also a brush with a terminal disease will also get you to quit. I quit when I had a health scare in '07 - stayed off for 16 months and started back again in the fall of '2008. BAD summer and fall for me and I finally succumbed and went and bought that pack of cigarettes. I try to keep the smoking to a minimum but it's got it's hold on me again. The only positive thing is I am almost positive I CAN quit again. It wasn't actually that bad the first time around. Never gained any weight either, which is a big complaint on why people don't quit. Instead of munching on crap foods, I ate unlimited amounts of cut up veggie, fruits, low carb snacks. Even writing this and thinking back on the time I was a nonsmoker, I realize how much better I felt. Maybe I should start writing essays to myself every morning when I get up about how good I felt when I wasn't smoking!!!

    Or just throw the damn things in the trash!!

  5. The letter is by "a nicotine cessation educator and director of WhyQuit.com." That's some conflict of interest.

    Point the fingers wherever, people, but our ancestors started smoking long before there were tobacco companies and media to feed off them. Sure it can be a filthy habit. It's also a choice enjoyed for millennia.

    Let freedom ring!

  6. It's kind of ironic because after I did that post about my smoking, I decided I hadn't been to one of our local casinos in awhile. So I took my huge gambling budget of $60 and decided to go but my question was: do I go to the Illinois land-based casino which there is no smoking (and closer to where I live), or one of the Iowa boats which allows smoking. Iowa won out not only for the smoking but it has two of my favorite machines I always played in Vegas and always won. Got to my machines and wanted to light up but realized NO ONE around me was smoking so I felt uncomfortable ighting a cigarette! I noticed ash trays were hard to find and the smokers were far and few between. These are old boats and ventilation is poor to say the least. Whether you smoke or not, you come out smelling as if you smoked 2 packs of cigarettes!!

    So for the 2 hrs I was there, I never bothered lighting up nor did I want to!! Guess I was too busy losing my meager gambling money to think about smoking!