How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.

I loved cigarette smoking. I started when I was just a punk kid and all of my friends were into it from the earliest of ages. I must’ve been around 12 when I picked up my first cigarette. I mean literally picked up a half-smoked butt off the street tossed by a passerby that we all took a few drags on. Sounds absolutely repulsive to me today—but back then, pre-AIDs, pre-stigma, pre- anti-tobacco movement and pre-Surgeon General’s report, it was pretty normal around the streets I grew up on.

Everyone we knew and looked up to smoked. My father smoked pungent cigars, an occasional cigarette or a sweet smelling pipe until he was late in his 60s. I’m hard-pressed to think of a big- time movie star who didn’t  light up. Or a tough guy gangster or celebrity who didn’t look cooler, stronger and more powerful with his head encircled by a ring of smoke or a cigarette dangling from his lip while he talked. Hell, even athletes smoked.

By the time I reached adulthood my cigarette addiction was full blown. I couldn’t write a term paper without cigarettes. I couldn’t enjoy a meal without a cigarette before and after. I couldn’t make a presentation without a cigarette.  And I damn well couldn’t make advertising without cigarettes. Cigarettes and smoking were pretty much hardwired into my DNA and neurochemistry.

But for whatever the reason I started—the hardest part for my life as a smoker was to find a reason to quit. Really quit once and for all.

Successful quitters usually take seven or eight “tries.”

I might have helped push that average number of quit attempts up because I can easily count about 15 to 20  times that I seriously tried to quit over the intervening years.

I’d have success for a few weeks, a month, and sometime a few months in a row. But eventually I’d wind up back smoking. I quit many, many times employing many methods.

  • Cold turkey:  At least every other New Year’s Eve I would make the resolution and normally last a few weeks or just a couple of days.
  • Great American Smokeout Day: I think the American Cancer Society  sponsors this special national smoke-free day and I’m pretty sure I joined the movement at least five or six times over the years and lasted anywhere from a week to 24 hours.
  • Quit aids and other support: I used the patch about four times—the graduated variety and the full strength option too. Would help me quit for a week or so—and then I’d remove patch, smoke for a few days, and then slap it back on. I’ve gnawed on all the nicotine gums and while I may have quit a few times using gum—most often it became a nicotine crutch for the times when I couldn’t smoke in an office or on a long flight.
  • I’m-not-smoking-if-I-don’t-buy-method: My fellow smokers loved me for this quit style. My rationalization was simple and clear to me—if I don’t “own” a pack of cigarettes, I’m just mooching an occasional smoke from others and living on the kindness of strangers. As cigarette prices continued to climb, I would apply this methodology to total strangers and buy a few cigarettes for a buck or two. Still in my mind I wasn’t smoking because, hey, I wasn’t really buying.
  • “Pipes and cigars don’t count, right?” method: This quit style got very expensive. I’d buy cigars—expensive cigars—and find places after a big dinner or event where I could stroll and take my time savoring one. But the reality is while I loved the aromatics of secondhand cigar smoke—I really hated the taste and the wooziness that’d hit me about 25 percent through a $15 or $20 dollar cigar. So I’d burn through a lot of costly cigars. Another “quit” activity  was to take up pipe smoking—I’d stop along Madison Avenue at one of the finer smoke shops and pick out a nice classy briarwood or meerschaum pipe—smoke it on and off again for a few weeks—then  eventually quit pipes, toss my pipes and pipe accoutrements and move back to cigarettes.
  • Gimmicks: I tried them all. Inhalers with nicotine, special water filters, cigarette holders that eliminated all the toxins, air cigarettes, and on and on. Even tried a “medically approved, doctor administered” quit solution that involved two injections of relaxants and a mixture of scopolamine and other anesthetics into the bottom of my head at the nape of the neck. I would have and may have tried every method of quitting. If Dr. Frankenstein were around touting a quit plan,  I would have gladly hopped on the table and said “hit the switch.”

But each time after a short period of success, regardless of the quit method—I was back to smoking within days, weeks, or months.

What I needed was my own personal reason to quit.

I knew and know that smoking is bad for my health. I didn’t need to be told. I had tried to quit in excess of 20 times over the years, but still I never got to the truly quit point of my life. But in 2006 I decided on my own to make a significant  and genuine push to quit for my own reasons—not someone telling me it’s bad, or asking me to quit, or giving me reasons to quit.

Why I succeeded.

I decided to join a great program that was run by the local University of Rochester Medical Center  here in conjunction with some NY state funding from NYQuitNow.com.

It was what I like to call the Full-Monty of quit programs.

It included several required appointments and assessments with an MD  from the program who took a full physical and medical assessment, pulled data and info from my PCP and then presented his findings to me at two following sessions. Also included free nicotine replacement therapy of my choice, free parking, and perhaps most valuable of all for me was a real live tobacco dependence counselor—a tobacco shrink! I remember grilling that poor woman about whether or not she was a genuine ex-smoker? And what kind of smoker was she—a social casual smoker or seriously addicted like me?

I picked a quit date (2/14) , followed the system, met with the doctor, followed up with my smoking cessation counselor religiously, crunched and savored as much nicotine gum as I needed.

I also scribbled down my three reasons for quitting and stuffed the little scrap of paper into my overstuffed wallet. They were:

  1. Live a long and healthy life with my wife.
  2. Grow old without being sickly.
  3. CEOs don’t smoke.

The science behind successful quitting.

Without knowing what I know now—my path to quitting while special and important and unique to me was virtually spot-on with the behavioral science that drives most successful tobacco cessation program and initiatives. I had gone through a long process that tracks with the transtheoretical model for behavior change, subject of an earlier post back in June.

At the core of TTM is the concept of phased steps or stages. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “stages of change” in the scientific and public health literature. It’s organized around six stages of change which I translate from a communications approach to getting the right message to the right person at the right time.  Just like you can’t sell someone a car who needs a truck, or convince a person to buy a suit of clothes that’s two sizes too small—in the behavior change space you need to reach people when they are ready to make a change.

  • Stage 1: Precontemplation: Unaware of the idea of making a change to quit smoking, curtail an addictive behavior. Not intending to take any action in the foreseeable future.
  • Stage 2: Contemplation: Thinking about the idea conceptually. Intending to action within the next six months. What wasn’t on their radar screen is now top of mind.
  • Stage 3: Preparation: Ready to take action within the next month. You talk or plan about setting a quit date and making some plans on how you’re going to do it—cold turkey, with support, with nicotine replacement help, etc., etc.
  • Stage 4: Action: Very simple, significant, overt changes and active steps toward changing behavior or lifestyles within six months.
  • Stage 5: Maintenance: You are maintaining new habits and behavior and working to not relapse. (Yes, unfortunately, relapse is part of the up-and-down spiral of changing behavior.)
  • Stage 6: Termination: Sounds grim, I know, but this final stage of TTM is the ultimate goal of all behavior change. You are at 100 percent self-efficacy—confident and assured that you won’t return to old unhealthy habit(s) as a way of coping.

Everybody’s got their own reason for quitting cigarettes or changing behavior, what’s yours?

 

Related articles

How can we help you make change?

One Response to How people quit cigarettes and why CEOs don’t smoke.
  1. That really does sound like quite an impressive course of quitting help! I totally agree with what you’re saying about needing your own personal reason to quit.

    A friend of mine has tried time and again, failing each time. It almost got to the point of being embarrassing the end result was so obvious with each quitting attempt.

    Then suddenly she fell pregnant and gave up the moment she realized. And that’s been it ever since.

    All she needed was her own personal reason to quit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *