The Scoop On Smoking from ACSH: what every teen should know about tobacco



"Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." -- Mark Twain

If Mark Twain were alive today, he could have been more successful in his efforts to quit smoking -- thanks to what modern science has learned about smoking cessation.

In Twain's time -- and for several decades after his death in 1910 -- many people thought of smoking tobacco as merely a habit, and they believed that quitting was simply a matter of individual choice and willpower. Smoking was not then widely recognized as addictive, but we know now that it can be a strong addiction and that for many smokers willpower alone is not enough to give up tobacco permanently.

In recent years, researchers have learned a great deal about the factors that help people quit smoking successfully, the barriers that may interfere with smoking cessation, and the special problems faced by particular populations -- including teenagers. Scientists have also developed new techniques for smoking cessation -- including both drugs, approved e cigs and counselling methods -- that substantially increase the chances of success.

If you have a friend or relative who would like to stop smoking, you might want to suggest that the person make a doctor's appointment to talk about quitting. People often don't think of going to their doctors for advice in this situation, perhaps because they don't consider smoking to be a medical problem, but doctors are actually a very useful resource. They usually know about organized stop-smoking programs in the community, and they can prescribe medicines that can help a person quit smoking successfully.

Counselling and medication -- especially if they're used together -- can increase the likelihood that a smoker will be able to quit permanently. However, even with these types of help, quitting smoking is difficult. Everyone who has ever quit smoking will tell you that quitting is one of the toughest things they have ever done. The best way to avoid facing this tough problem, of course, is never to start smoking to begin with.

Stopping smoking is one of the most important and most challenging lifestyle changes an individual can make. Considering the many health, social, and economic benefits of quitting it is in the smoker's best interest to quit. More than 45 million Americans have liberated themselves from smoking, so it is possible to quit -- and quit for good.


This section of the website is based on a report by the American Council on Science and Health (Kicking Butts in the 21st Century) that summarizes what science has learned about smoking cessation -- with an emphasis on methods that have been proven to work. The report also describes some new smoking cessation techniques that are currently under development and evaluates some alternative methods that have been advocated as aids to smoking cessation. This report is not intended as a stop-smoking guide; instead, it is best used as a source of background information to complement the stop-smoking advice available from local and national health organizations, government agencies, and physicians.

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