Study shows: Smokers try to quit, but can't
So I have a friend (he shall remain anonymous) who has a HUGE smoking problem. Everytime we hang out, he would either waste time to go buy some cigarettes, or take 5minutes off from whatever we were doing to smoke. Often times I would get annoyed and ask him "how hard is it NOT to smoke." In my opinion its just like "oh I'm craving that last donut, but I just won't eat it." Is it really that difficult to take your mind off that cigarette and stop the craving? We see advertisements everywhere and the purpose of ads is to create this craving of commodity needs in people. I know it is a really farfetched example of a craving comparison but this is coming from a person who does not smoke so you would have to pardon me in this unsophisticated comparison. What I am trying to get at is, is it really that difficult to quit smoking? From the research, supposedly it is.
Within months of their first puff, most teen smokers struggle to stop smoking but most can't quit.
A Universite de Montreal study mapping the stepping stones to tobacco addiction shows that the process has definite stages and starts even earlier than believed.
Epidemiologist Jennifer O'Loughlin, the study's lead author, found that most adolescent smokers were naive about their ability to quit.
Many made a first serious attempt to quit after 2 1/2 month of sporadic smoking - and most failed. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms grew along with discouragement.
"And by the time they've have smoked for 21 months they have lost confidence in their ability to quit," O'Loughlin said. "As soon as they experience craving, the story is over. They're on the trajectory to becoming an adult smoker."
Despite early and increasing difficulty in quitting, it took about three years for the smokers to realize that they could not quit smoking of their own free will.
Some testimonies and experiences from smokers who tried to quit, but can't quit
Participants were aged 12 and 13 and puffing occasionally at the beginning of the study and went on to smoke daily by 14 and 15 years old.
"They confidently say, 'I've quit and I'm never going to smoke again,'" said O'Loughlin. "They continue with a bravado attitude and it takes them quite a while to realize, 'Hey, I can't stop this,' or 'I'm smoking because I can't quit.'"
Having bummed a cigarette on her coffee break, computer technician Bo Martin, 19, says the study got it right.
"I've tried to quit and I've failed miserably," said Martin, who took her first puff at age 14 because her friends did and it seemed like the cool thing to do.
For Martin, smoking is a social lubricant. She smokes 15 a day and says she can't quit because it's ingrained in her daily routines. But it's a love/hate relationship.
"In our study we tried to look for kids who became weekly smokers and then quit and we couldn't couldn't find any. The kids always went back to smoking."
The literature on tobacco studies suggests that smokers at age 16 will be hooked on the habit for an average of 16 years for boys and 20 years for girls.
Previous studies looked at youth who smoked 100 cigarettes while O'Loughlin's study mapped the early onset of addiction.
"Not every kid will get hooked," O'Loughlin said. But a portion will show symptoms of nicotine dependence after the first puff, she said.
What I got from the article is that you shouldn't even start smoking. Once you start, it gets harder and harder for you to stop. I think many have the idea of "oh, I can stop anytime I want so this won't affect me." But from the research, you should try to stop as early as possible, while you still can.
I am personally not a smoker, so I have no idea what this "craving" feels like. That being said, it might be a little naive for me to think that "how can it be so hard to quit? Just don't smoke" but the truth is that I do think that. Doesn't seem that difficult to NOT smoke. I know all the smokers out there are probably screaming at their computer screen and yelling at me for that comment. However, from the article, it does seem really hard to quit after consistantly smoking for a long period of time. I guess I will never understand the "craving for a smoke" feeling until I start smoking myself but I won't be doing that anytime soon.
Is it really that hard to quit smoking?