Most smokers do not get pleasure from their habit, nearly 7 out of 10 said they want to quit completely. But the addiction is strong and the habit is powerful, and it can take a long time to quit. The CDC suggests 8 to 11 attempts, the American Cancer Society believes 8 to 10. A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto suggests it’s more likely it’ll take a smoker 30 attempts or more to go a full year without any cigarettes.
“Smoking cessation is a difficult and complex process, and smokers use many methods and approaches to achieve cessation,” the recent study begins. “Knowing how many quit attempts it takes an average smoker to quit is important as it can frame different narratives about the quitting process.”
That’s a strict definition. Anyone who’s tried to quit smoking knows there is often a stumble here and there, such as having one at a party or during the midst of a particularly stressful day. There have been studies that suggest nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Because of that, attempts to quit are often unsuccessful because of withdrawal, stress, and weight gain.
It also takes some trial and error to find out which method works best for a person, whether it’s quitting “cold turkey” or using a nicotine replacement therapy like gum or patches. So, researchers calculate, it takes a person a realistic 30 attempts to quit smoking, the number of attempts nearly three times higher for daily smokers compared to the occasional smoker.
most smokers only know to treat the addiction to nicotine, not the long last behavioral dependency
Letting smokers know how many times it takes to quit could be a double-edged sword and may not be helpful, the researchers noted. “It may be that some smokers may be discouraged by hearing how difficult it can be to quit smoking,” the study states. Then again, it may make for an interesting statistic for cigarette packs.
Since most smokers start in adolescence with an average attempt to quit each year, the average smoker can expect to quit in their late 40s or early 50s, which is when most people finally quit smoking. While many people could stay away from cigarettes after a year, about a third will experience some kind of relapse. The habit is often a powerful draw.
The habit is a powerful force, and most smokers only know to treat the addiction to nicotine, not the long last behavioral dependency. Smokers return to the habit months later, when the addiction to nicotine is long past, but the same triggers to smoke are still present. The other smokers, stress, and cues to smoke remain, and are a constant reminder.