Be prepared to hear some confusing information


November 14th, 2001, 9:29 pm#1

Tomorrow is the 25th Annual Great American Smokeout. Many people and organizations see the Great American Smokeout as a time to heightened awareness to the importance of quitting and thus a valuable time to start a quit. I on the other hand see it as a time where I must be ever more vigilant with my successful clinic graduates and in fact I often try to steer clear of offering clinics during the specific week. While most would think the heightened awareness is a good thing-it often brings out some of the most blatant campaigns of misinformation out there.

I actually worked for the American Cancer Society when the Smokeout was first created. This predated NRT products so I can't even say my feelings in this matter are based on the blitz of promotion and information put out by the pharmacological companies. Back then it was the major health organizations and the state of the art programs themselves that would advocate cut down programs and psychological issues totally missing the point of addiction. This of course was understandable considering at that time no major medical organizations were yet recognizing that cigarette smoking was a true form of drug addiction.

So here I would be doing clinics and programs teaching the participants that they were nicotine addicts and the media would be blitzing them with materials contradicting that nicotine was an addiction and trying to teach them how to gradually cut down.

Generally if I waited to start my clinics until a week after the Smokeout, I was better able to point out the limitations of the information they were getting a week earlier through the media in a few minutes-without having to sit and debate and defend my feelings on the matter day after day as more and more materials were being discussed leading up to the event. Usually within a day or two of the Smokeout it was pretty much gone and forgotten with not much follow-up coverage.

Today, besides having the professional health organizations trying to promote the event, you have the pharmaceutical companies also using the Smokeout to plug their products. The media often looks for quotes and catchy stories to boost the event, but most of these quotes will come from people who "think" that the state of the art programs are actually the most successful ways people can quit. After all, they are the state of the art programs, aren't they? I suspect you will hear a lot this week of how NRT will double your chance of success.

Well I am here to tell you that if you quit smoking cold-turkey and you never take another puff, you have a 100% chance of success. Can taking nicotine into your body via another route double that chance? No it cannot, not in any way, shape or form.

Everyone here has to know that they are drug addicts and to stay free is contingent on never administering nicotine again-not from cigarettes, cigars or pipes, not from chewing tobacco or snuff, not from nicotine laced products like inhalers, patches, gums, lozenges, or drops.

We are not just talking about not taking these products on special days like the day of a Smokeout, or New Years, or Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or Memorial Day, or Independence Day, any other holiday or special occasion that marks a new day or special day. Holidays and special days are no different than any other of the 365 days that occur in any year when it comes to drug addiction. They must all be treated the same-to overcome the passing of every 24 hour period for successfully smoke free entails always understanding that you must never take another puff!


2012 video related to this string:

Last edited by Joel on November 10th, 2012, 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.


November 14th, 2001, 9:39 pm#2

Here is an example of what I mean. It greeted me today from AOL news. What starts out as a news report about smoking rates quickly turned into a commercial for NRT products. I left out the commercial aspects of the post, which was about twice as long as this intro to the story. But if anyone wants to find the ads I am sure they will be more than easy to come across in the next day or two.

Smokers Encouraged to Join the American Cancer Society's 25th Annual Great American Smokeout(R)

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Since the tragic events of September 11, approximately one-third of all current smokers in the United States have started smoking more cigarettes, according to the results of a recent survey commissioned by the American Cancer Society and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.
The survey results revealed that of those smokers who changed their smoking habits for the worse in the wake of September 11, many (75 percent) actually increased the amount of cigarettes they previously smoked. In fact, approximately 30 percent of people who smoked prior to September 11 increased their smoking, and more than 5 percent of former smokers picked up their cigarettes again.

KerBer (green)

November 14th, 2001, 10:25 pm#3

At the grocery store last night, I cracked up when a commercial over the "Musac" system was touting Nicorette Gum. It said, "If you are going to try to quit smoking, you want to use all of the tools that are available to you?"

I laughed out loud - and yes, People were staring - All you need is a little willpower, education and support! and to know that you are NEVER GONNA TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

KerBer - feeling fantastic!

No smokes for 2 Weeks 5 Days 10 Hours 54 Minutes 48 Seconds.
389 cigarettes left at the store.
Money back in my pocket: $58.36.


improud (golder)

November 16th, 2001, 12:33 am#4

The Great American Smokeout day never helped me. I always picked up a cigarette forgetting that I wasn't going to smoke that day. I would have not known that today was the day if I hadn't seen your post Joel. Never gave it a second thought Just Like I've finally been able to do about smoking. NEVER GIVE IT ANOTHER THOUGHT by NEVER TAKING ANOTHER PUFF. I have been Quit for: 10M 1W 3D 13h 2m 29s. I have NOT smoked 9466, for a savings of $1,419.94. Life Saved: 1M 1D 20h 50m.


November 16th, 2001, 9:40 am#5

For Ryan

I figured that the Internet would have more than its fair share of such pieces out there today. That is why I put this post up yesterday in preparation for such information. You would think after reading the article you found that it would be close to impossible to find people whoi actually ever pulled off a long-term cold turkey quit. But in fact, if you follow-up all of the long-term (1 year plus) ex-smokers you know in your real world, you will find an amazingly high percentage of them (usually all of them but I'll leave a little room for error here) did actually quit y cold turkey. You will actually be hard pressed to come up with many who did it by NRT and actually sustained a year or longer quit once they tried to get off the NRT product. Don't take my word for it though, do your own survey of family, friends and co-workers. You will likely see this for yourself from the most credible sources you know, the people in your own real world.


November 17th, 2001, 2:42 am#6

For Kathryn:

Yesterday there was a lot of information out on the Internet and out in the media in general that would seem contradictory of what we do here at Freedom. I got numerous email announcement of new studies and new conclusions all saying the same old stuff--how effective NRT and pharmacological interventions are for smoking cessation.

I had brought up this post a day in advance for we knew the onslaught of information could have been quite extensive. Actually, it was not as pervasive as it has been at other times in the past, when we had slow news days and events like the Smoke Out garnered a lot of attention.

Anyway, as far as who to believe on what is really the effective way to successfully quit smoking, don't believe us, and don't believe them either. Believe your own experiences and those experiences of ex-smokers you actually know in your real life--your family, friends and co-workers who have successfully quit smoking and so far have succeeded for a year or longer. Survy enough people and the way to quit will become blantantly obvious to you. You will soon believe your own eyes and ears it will become evident that the way to get off and stay off of cigarettes is to never take another puff!



November 17th, 2001, 4:20 am#7

moving your post here, Kathryn
From: kathryn (Original Message) Sent: 11/16/2001 3:04 PM
Hi Joel, and thank you for that information. I just am so very against the
NRT's!! I just think it is one of the biggest scams ever! Now in England,
they have come out with a nicotine lozenge! To replace the gum?? Who
knows!!!Because the gum causes jaw problems in many people.

Anyway the biggest reason I think it is such a that you are
administering thee drug, that you are so addicted to! brother! For an
alcoholic, the 'cut down' method, never works, and certainly a gum, lozenge,
pill or patch form of alcohol wouldn't work either!! Anyway, I am just so
very grateful to be completely nicotine free!! At 13 days, 5 hours, and30

your friend,



December 27th, 2001, 8:11 pm#8

It is time to get ready for the possible New Years media assault on how to quit smoking. While this piece was written for the Great American Smokeout, New Years is when there is actually more coverage on smoking and quitting issues, and thus it is more likely that a lot of contradictory information will be disseminated. Don't get confused by the "facts" and don't lose sight of the real way to quit and prevent relapse permanently--it is as simple and inexpensive as just knowing to never take another puff!


marty (gold)

December 27th, 2001, 8:31 pm#9

This is equally relevant for our British readers.

You will see a lot of TV adverts for nicotine patches, gum, and other NRT products, all claiming that "it is twice as easy to quit using nicotine replacement products as it is to quit cold turkey". What they don't tell you is how many of those quitters stay quit beyond a month or two !!! We know that 90% of nicotine replacement quitters relapse within a year.

Remember that these adverts are being placed by commercial drug companies whose sole objective is to persuade you to buy their product. Don't be fooled by the insidious association of these products with the Government's "NHS Smoking Helpline". That "helpline" is actually a government-funded quango which has its own agenda. The sources of funding are not disclosed by the government and may, for all that I know, include funding by the drug companies who are selling nicotine replacement products. Certainly the literature you get from the "helpline" promotes those products.

If you saw an advert on TV extolling the virtues of heroin, would you believe it, and would you buy it ? Well the manufacturers of nicotine replacement products are extolling the virtues of nicotine, a drug proven to be nearly FOUR TIMES as addictive as heroin, and a drug which through its most common delivery vehicle (cigarettes) causes hundreds of times the number of diseases and deaths that heroin causes.

You make up your own mind


December 27th, 2001, 8:51 pm#10

Hello Marty,

Yes, this particular post this week has world wide relevance. The Great American Smokeout is quite limited in its impact, even in America these days. You wrote about how the pharmacological companies sole interest is to sell their products. That is exactly the way things are in the real world, and the way they are likely going to stay. In a perfect world we would have governments and overseeing agencies to protect the consumer, but as we see here often, we don't live in a perfect world and as far as treating nicotine addiction--I don't think there is even an especially good country, state, city, village or even a neighborhood that is geared to really help people understand how to quit. We will have to settle on our little site for the moment.

When I read your comment above it reminded me of the paragraph in our Mission Statement:

"We are hostile to nobody. Not even to the tobacco industry or pharmaceutical companies who have different agendas than ours. They exist because they want you to use their products. We exist because you want to stop using their products. We are not here to try to make anyone stop using their products either. We are here to help people quit using nicotine because they have already decided to do so."

That is such an important paragraph to me. Not because of the first part, that they want you to use their product, but because of the second part--"We exist because you want to stop using their products." I hope everyone reflects on that concept often. You wanted out of smoking, that is why you found us. We want to make sure you always remember the way things were between you and cigarettes. They will never be that way again as long as all of our members and lurkers always remember to never take another puff!



January 2nd, 2002, 10:30 pm#11

I didn't see this first hand but it was just told to me. The Today Show had on a smoking cessation "expert" telling people definately not to go cold turkey, to use quitting aids and cutdown, and that if you fall down just get right back up. I was also told another expert said that you can't quit the first time, it takes numerous times to quit. Thought I'd better bring up this string to address these concerns. I suspect there will be a few more days of this kind of information being reported before these people get back to their day jobs.



November 14th, 2002, 9:57 pm#12

I think Bob brought up this piece in part to support the discussion that was going on in the string Doctor's wordly advice!!!???. Although we probably should be prepared soon for an onslaught of this kind of misinformation since the Great American Smokeout is just one week from today.

When it comes down to it though the Great American Smokeout is just another day to our membership. Sure it is a day where our members swear not to take a cigarette, but this should be of no surprise and has no connotation of being a daunting task--it is the same vow that our members took yesterday, today, tomorrow and the other six days leading to the smokeout. Also important to note is that our members will have the same commitment the day after the smokeout and every day following that day too.

For our members know that quitting smoking is not contingent on just making it smoke free on special occasions, but rather that being able to stay smoke free is only possible by recognizing that each and every day he or she must stay totally committed to never take another puff!



December 27th, 2002, 9:43 pm#13

It is time to get ready for the possible New Years media assault on how to quit smoking. While this piece was written for the Great American Smokeout, New Years is when there is actually more coverage on smoking and quitting issues, and thus it is more likely that a lot of contradictory information will be disseminated. Don't get confused by the "facts" and don't lose sight of the real way to quit and prevent relapse permanently--it is as simple and inexpensive as just knowing to never take another puff!


John (Gold)

December 27th, 2002, 10:29 pm#14

The neo-nicotine pushers are out in force right now and in some cases they're not even telling nicotine addicts viewing their television commercials that behind their product's hopeful new names - like Commit - is nothing more than more nicotine. Sadly, the viewer's brain dopamine reward pathways are already Committed to nicotine and what they need is a bit of time away from nicotine so that their reward pathways can begin to sense that life without nicotine is not only possible but healthier and happier.

Those pushing nicotine via the patch are out in force too. Let me share a portion of a nicotine patch news story that went out across news wires an hour ago ...
"A new study suggests that nicotine patches alone are helpful in helping people give up smoking ...

They had a group of 567 male and female heavy smokers receive either a real nicotine patch or a placebo patch. They found that nearly 20 per cent of the active patch users quit completely after seven days, compared to around seven per cent in the placebo group.

Quit completely? On average you've got a pack-a-day nicotine addict who was used to smoking 20 mg. of nicotine a day now receiving 21 mg. of nicotine a day via a patch. What have they completely quit? Amazing!

There is absolutely no reason to believe that the "real-world" use of any NRT product will produce results different from those stated in the below medical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on September 11, 2002. Keep in mind that the patch is competing below against uneducated cold turkey quitters who have been taught almost nothing about how to take the "cold" out of cold turkey quitting. What a waste of a golden opportunity!

JAMA 2002 Sep 11;288(10):1260-4
Impact of over-the-counter sales on effectiveness of pharmaceutical aids for smoking cessation.

Pierce JP, Gilpin EA.

Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Cancer Center, 0645, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0645, USA.

CONTEXT: Successful smoking cessation is a major public health goal. In controlled clinical trials, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and the antidepressant bupropion have been shown to significantly increase cessation rates only for moderate to heavy smokers (> or = 15 cigarettes/d). Nicotine replacement therapy is heavily promoted to the general population by both the pharmaceutical industry and tobacco control advocates.
OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in smoking cessation, pharmaceutical cessation aid use, and success in cessation in the general California population.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: The large population-based California Tobacco Surveys of 1992, 1996, and 1999, including 5247 (71.3% response rate), 9725 (72.9% response rate), and 6412 (68.4% response rate) respondents, respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of cessation attempts (> or = 1 day) among smokers in the last year, use of pharmaceutical aids (mostly over-the-counter products since 1996), and cessation success.
RESULTS: Between 1992 and 1999, cessation attempts among California smokers increased 61.4% (from 38.1% to 61.5%), and NRT use among quitters increased 50.5% (from 9.3% to 14.0%). A total of 17.2% of quitters used NRT, an antidepressant, or both as an aid to cessation in 1999. In 1996 and 1999, the median duration of aid use (14 days) was much less than recommended, and only about 20% of users had adjuvant one-on-one or group behavioral counseling. Use of NRT increased short-term cessation success in moderate to heavy smokers in each survey year. However, a long-term cessation advantage was only observed before NRT became widely available over-the-counter (August 1996). In 1999, no advantage for pharmaceutical aid users was observed in either the short or long term for the nearly 60% of California smokers classified as light smokers (<15 cigarettes/d).
CONCLUSION: Since becoming available over the counter, NRT appears no longer effective in increasing long-term successful cessation in California smokers.


December 27th, 2002, 10:33 pm#15

Also note--big news item--7 days. Not that I want to minimize seven days for our people getting through one week today. But for research purposes, seven days success rates are not saying a whole lot. Again, this is not "news worthy" material.


December 28th, 2002, 12:15 am#16

Here is an example of some useful and significant information getting distorted by a sales pitch for NRT. If you analyze the comment on pharmaceutical aids, the recommendation is that EVERYONE who quits should use these products.
I bet all of our members are feeling foolish now quitting without this stuff--especially all of our six month or one year and even longer-term ex-smokers who hardly think about cigarettes at all anymore. Just think how much more successful and easier your life would now be if you would have been following this great advice. I bet some of you would still be having great success at trying to control your pharmaceutical aids.
The bulk of this article is good though, and ties in well with the strings I Will Quit When... and Waiting to Bottom Out.
Millions of U.S. Smokers Ignore Warnings

Wed Dec 25, 9:37 AM ET
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Despite suffering from chronic lung and other ailments, millions of Americans ignore warnings from their physicians and continue smoking.[/size]

A study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that nearly 38 percent of people with the chronic lung disease emphysema still smoke, as do almost 25 percent of those with asthma.[/size][/size]

And the agency said Tuesday that the patients continued smoking even though at least 60 percent of them said they had been told by a doctor to stop within the last year.[/size]

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 15 million Americans suffer from asthma. The American Lung Association estimates the number may be as high as 17.7 million, with an additional 2.8 million suffering from emphysema.[/size]

The agency's Dr. Steven B. Cohen said the data will allow researchers to detect trends and determine whether people with chronic illnesses continue to smoke in large numbers in coming years. AHRQ is the government's lead agency for research on health care quality, costs, outcomes and patient safety.[/size]

"We're trying to assess the individuals who are current smokers and get a sense of whether, in the past 12 months, they have been advised to quit," Cohen said.[/size]

The findings were no surprise to Dr. Norman H. Edelman. "We see people like that all the time," the Long Island physician said.[/size]

"What it points out is nicotine is a true addiction, just like being addicted to heroin or cocaine or other narcotics. You are perfectly aware of deleterious effects but it's hard to break an addiction," said Edelman, who teaches at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.[/size]

The findings, part of a statistical brief on smoking, were issued without discussion by the Health and Human Services agency.[/size]

The report also noted that 20 percent of people with high blood pressure or heart problems continue to smoke, as do 18.5 percent of people with diabetes, diseases that affect millions more Americans.[/size]

Cohen said that the overall statistics on the number of adults who smoke are similar to other studies, but those studies haven't looked specifically at people with chronic illnesses.[/size]

Edelman, who serves as a spokesman for the American Lung Association, said that in addition to the problems of quitting smoking, some people who develop disease take the attitude that the damage is already done so they may as well continue to enjoy cigarettes.[/size]

But, he stressed, research has shown that it's always beneficial to stop smoking.[/size]

"Physicians have to be much more active in helping people quit," he said. "They have to recommend programs, they have to monitor programs, make sure patients are using pharmaceutical aids to quit. In general, we believe physicians should play a more active role" in helping people quit.[/size]

The new findings are based on a self-administered questionnaire given to 15,661 adults in late 2000 and early 2001 as part of an effort to evaluate their health care.[/size]

Overall, the report found that 23.1 percent of adult Americans smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier that 23.3 percent were smokers in 2000, down from 25 percent in 1993.[/size]

The new study found the lowest smoking rates among Hispanics, 16.8 percent. By comparison 23.6 percent of non-Hispanic blacks smoke, as do 23.8 percent of non-Hispanic whites and other persons.[/size]

As other studies have shown, people who didn't finish high school are more likely to smoke than those who graduated, 32.8 percent compared to 15.8 percent.[/size]

And, at 54.6 percent, men made up more than half of smokers.[/size]
Last edited by Joel on April 12th, 2009, 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

AuntBea (Silver)

December 28th, 2002, 12:18 am#17

This might not be the best place to put this--but I just had to share as I found the story rather amazing!
Last night I called my 87 year old Grandma to let her know that I had quit smoking. She was just tickled about it, and told me the following story:
Her brother, who is married to a registered nurse, had been a heavy smoker since he was a child. His wife was fairly certain that he was having a heart attack, and drove him to the hospital. When they got there, he requested that she park the car while he had a quick smoke before going in! Needless to say, she didn't let him, and when she related the incident to the doctor after the crisis was over, he stated that had he had the cigarette, it most likely would have killed him.
According to Grandma, her brother only has 1/2 lung left. He quit smoking 8 years ago. He has been addicted to Nicorette gum since then. He will get up in the night to chew his fix. He chews it all day long. It has caused sores in his mouth and on his tongue, and caused him a great deal of dental problems, but he cannot give it up.
Grandma is glad, however, that he is no longer stinking up the place. She just wonders how long it will be before they start having to cut off pieces of his mouth, and what he will do then. Perhaps the patch? Apparently he has received some really good medical advice.

John (Gold)

December 28th, 2002, 7:20 am#18

AuntBea, it's hard to say how many of the participants in these NRT studies actually end up still nicotine dependent and fully adjusted to getting their nicotine from a new delivery device, as very few studies actually keep such records. Like your great-uncle and the article Joel presented, it only goes to show how captivating this substance really can be upon the untrained mind. Glad he listened to your great-aunt! It must be nice having a nurse in the family : )


March 6th, 2003, 4:45 am#19

While there are times when confusing information is release in massive amounts, generally there is always a little bit of misinformation released in little articles and news stories here and there. I truly believe we would have a lot more ex-smokers in the world today if not so much misinformation on how to quit was out there.

By the way, I think I saw somewhere that Tuesday, March 12 is National No Smoking Day in the United Kingdom. I am not sorry that we will be missing the flood of media hype here considering I have a clinic going who does not need to be bombarded by the nonsense that will likely be generated. But for all of our friends in the United Kingdom, just remember that every day is a no smoking day for you as long as every day you remember to never take another puff!


John (Gold)

May 31st, 2003, 11:40 am#20

World No Tobacco Day, like the Great American Smokeout and No Smoking Day, has been bought and paid for by pharmaceutical company contributions to major health non-profit organizations. It doesn't mean this opportunity isn't "real" or "possible" it just means that folks with money want more money by charging you to lengthen how long it takes to recover. Think about it this way... if your brain dopamine reward pathways truly are chemically married to nicotine when does the healing and adjustment period commence?
In helping you decide the above, we invite you to read a March 2003 study by paid pharmaceutical industry consultants that took all the over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine gum and patch (NRT) studies conducted to date, that were capable of being combined and averaged, and concluded that 93% of all patch and gum users in studies relapsed to smoking within six months. Of the 7% still not smoking, an unrevealed percentage remained permanently dependent and hooked upon the nicotine device being tested. Is this really what you want? Is this really the best you can expect? Here's three links that support and present the above assertion.
Last edited by John (Gold) on April 12th, 2009, 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.


November 13th, 2003, 4:58 am#21

Next week will be the 27th Annual Great American Smoke Out. The media blitz is likely beginning to happen in many areas now, although next week will likely be worse. I thought we had better get our readers prepared for the onslaught of information and misinformation that is abundant at this time of year. Also read the string on The Teaching of Conventional Wisdom at Freedom. There is likely going to be a lot of conventional wisdoms being shared in the media over the next few days and we want to make sure that none of it shows up here and is mistaken as factual and helpful information.
Last edited by Joel on April 12th, 2009, 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)

November 13th, 2003, 7:17 am#22

Below is WhyQuit's press release for the 27th Great American Smokeout. It will be released for publication on November 14 at 5 am EST and we wanted to put it out for those of you who may want to email us with any problems you see or correction that are needed. Feel free to submit it to your local newpapers should you so desire. Also, a big thanks to Marty and Alyson for contributing to this year's GASO release.

Great American Smokeout Hijacked
When the American Cancer Society held the first Smokeout in 1976 it was to make smokers aware of the importance of quitting, to provide a firm date for getting started, and to share literature on how to succeed. Twenty-six Smokouts later it has been transformed from a national quitting day into a day for selling new methods to replace the nicotine within the bodies of those addicted to it.

(PRWEB) November 12 2003--The 27th Great American Smokeout is this Thursday, November 20. If you are a smoker then get ready to be bombarded by a flood of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) commercials. They'll likely imply that quitting cold turkey requires mountains of willpower or Herculean strength. They'll tell you that by buying and using the nicotine gum, patch, lozenge or inhaler that you won't have to be some super hero to quit.

Even while unknowingly inviting the fox (nicotine) into the hen house (filled with nicotine addicts), a 1997 American Cancer Society press release assured the world that its new NRT pharmaceutical industry partnership was toward "efforts to expand its education of products and methods relevant to smoking cessation."

A visit to the American Cancer Society's online "Guide for Quitting Smoking" reveals just how far education expansion has come. Visitors will find 250 lines of type devoted to a growing array of NRT products, followed by one lone vague reference to quitting cold turkey.

Once the staple of quitting and cornerstone of the Society's cessation program, the sale of its trusted name and logo to NRT pharmaceutical interests may have brought it millions of dollars but not without cost.

This week we'll likely again watch as its name and credibility is invoked in a cold turkey bashing campaign designed to cause those addicted to nicotine to shy away from their natural inclinations.

Pharmaceutical industry literature, websites and commercials proclaim that few cold turkey quitters succeed and that the gum, patch or lozenge has been proven to double your chances of quitting for good. But is it true?

Are cold turkey success stories few and far between? Are most successful quitters quitting with the help of the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge?

Not according to Joel Spitzer, a 26 year Chicago quitting programs director and director of education at the internet's oldest cold turkey quitting forum, hosted by "Contrary to the bill of goods being sold to smokers, most quitters are still quitting cold turkey and more importantly the vast majority of successful quitters also quit by going cold turkey," says Spitzer.

Surprisingly, the Society's own research appears to support Spitzer's contentions. Surrounded by almost mandatory NRT use recommendations, page 25 of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures 2003 report contains a table indicating that 81% of current quitters and 91.2% of former successful quitters quit entirely on their own without any resort to quitting aids.

"Save your hard earned money," says Spitzer, "quitting should cost you nothing. Don't trust me but instead do your own survey by talking to family and trusted friends who have successfully have been off of all nicotine products for at least a year. Ask them how they did it."

If 91.2% of successful quitters did not use the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, hypnosis, acupuncture, Zyban, Wellbutrin, Smoke-Away, magic herbs or any formal quitting program, what are their secrets, why are they not being shared and why constantly undermine the world's most productive means of quitting?

"Most people succeed by coming to grips with the idea that to stay smoke-free they cannot take a puff on a cigarette," says Spitzer. "Try to find one person who once had quit but are now smokers again who didn't take a puff. Finding one such person is going to take you the rest of your life."

There have been a few important study developments since the last Smokeout that quitters might want to contrast with the American Cancer Society's website assertion that "about 5%--16% of people are able to quit smoking for at least 6 months without any medicine to help with withdrawal."

A March 2003 study published in Tobacco Control combined and averaged the results of all seven over-the-counter nicotine patch and gum studies and found that only 7% of participants had not relapsed to smoking within six months. But it might be even worse.

A just released November study, also published in Tobacco Control, found that as many as 7% of all nicotine gum users and 2% of patch users are still using NRT at six-months. When combined, the two studies present a legitimate concern - are any gum users actually breaking free from nicotine while using it?

"Historically, the literature has seldom examined dependence on NRT," asserts the November study whose primary authors were Saul Shiffman of the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. J.R. Hughes of the University of Vermont. "We estimate that 36.6% of current gum users are engaged in persistent use."

Confused yet? Don't feel alone. As the November study suggests, part of the variance stems from the fact that NRT studies defined quitting as quitting smoking but not necessarily breaking nicotine's grip.

If you've already given your share of quick-fix magic cures a try, you may want to consider an invitation to return to the Smokeout's 1976 roots -- a day to quit, actually quitting for a day, and reading some solid nicotine dependency recovery information.

Marty, a London, England ex-smoker of three years recently extended a caring hand across an ocean of doubt and denial in posting a Smokeout invitation to Americans. "One day, one moment, one simple decision was all it took to change my life forever ... one simple click to

Another online quitter of a year and a half, Alyson from Brooklyn, New York, shared Marty's invite in asking that you reflect upon whether "you smoke because you want to or because you have to?" "Try not smoking for a day to find out," encourages Alyson.

According to Spitzer, "our members and the vast majority of long-term ex-smokers have learned what they need to do to successfully stay smoke-free which is simply knowing to never take another puff!"


About the Author: John R. Polito is a South Carolina nicotine cessation educator and the 1999 founder of



November 20th, 2003, 6:45 pm#23

Even articles I am in can have confusing information. This is a article that I was told by the author was sent out to 40 newspapers nationwide yesterday in preparation for the Great American Smoke Out. You will see that she had very little luck in finding other professionals who would agree with my view. I am not surprised by that fact. It is not easy to find professional who agree with cold turkey being a particularly effective means at quitting. It is however relatively easy to find lots of people who would agree that cold turkey is the most effective method to quit. The people I am referring to are the ex-smokers of the world. They will often advocate cold turkey because it is the way that the vast majority of the millions of ex-smokers worldwide quit. For the record, it would be good to read the two articles Who Should You Believe? and Quit Cold Turkey. They add additional insights to issues discussed in this article.


How Best to Quit Smoking? Research Data Are Elusive

c.2003 Newhouse News Service

You're a smoker. The 26th annual Great American Smokeout is Thursday. You'd like to participate and you want to use the single most effective way to quit, the one method that the majority of former smokers used with the greatest success rate.

Sorry. That information doesn't exist.

For all the decades of surveys and polls on smoking, identification of the best way to stop remains elusive -- and controversial.

"It's amazing how much research is done and amazing how little we know about how successful smokers quit," said epidemiologist Stephen Marcus of the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute. "The more we get into it, the more complex it is."

Such as: What, exactly, is a former smoker -- someone who hasn't smoked after six weeks, six months, six years? How about a smoker who hasn't taken a puff in 20 years, then suddenly smokes for one week but quits again. Is that person a failure? And what about smokers who quit before nicotine replacement therapy came into use -- might they have quit more easily and faster with a patch or gum?

Most former smokers go cold turkey, meaning they just stop. About 91 percent of ex-smokers used that method, according to the National Health Interview Survey 2000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And yet the American Cancer Society advocates a combination of "pharmacological interventions and community/behavioral support" in its Cancer Facts & Figures 2003 report.

"If everyone could quit by willpower, we'd have far less smoking," said physician Michael Thun, chief of epidemiological research for the society. "For many people, quitting is extremely difficult."

Nicotine replacement and other drug therapy, Thun added, "aid in the increased chances of successful quitting."

Joel Spitzer disagrees. As a nicotine cessation counselor for nearly 30 years, he's conducted thousands of cold-turkey workshops. He's currently the smoking prevention and cessation consultant to health departments of Evanston and Skokie, Ill., and a founder of

He insists cold turkey works best. Period.

Spitzer has witnessed countless people quitting, some cutting back gradually or using nicotine replacement, others going cold turkey. "It's probably harder withdrawal the first few days going cold turkey," he said, "but then in the fourth day, it's a lot easier for them," while others continue to struggle.

Smokers who quit cold turkey are consistently more successful, he added.

"Over 85 percent of people who went through my clinics last year had tried nicotine replacement therapy products and have now basically written off the experience as a waste of time," Spitzer said.

The problem, he added, is that the cold turkey method has no public advocate. "There's no money to be made if you're just telling people to stop smoking" without offering a drug or product to help, he said.

But it's more complicated than that, said Daniel Seidman, clinical director of the Columbia University Tobacco Cessation Clinic in New York City.

"I've treated a lot of strong-willed people who are still not able to quit," Seidman said. "I think there are great medicines to help make it easier, but that's not meant to be the whole story."

Seidman, co-editor of the book "Helping the Hard-core Smoker: A Clinician's Guide," added that "people may put too much emphasis on medicines."

What's needed, he and others said, is more guidance on how to use the drugs properly, as well as counseling and support.

"Drugs without behavioral support are not nearly as effective," said Glen Morgan, a program director at the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute.

When quitting smoking, Morgan added, "there are many roads to mecca. If one method doesn't work, go back and look at what you can do differently."
Last edited by Joel on April 12th, 2009, 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.


December 23rd, 2003, 12:11 am#24

With the upcoming New Years just a little over a week away it is time to be prepared for the onslaught of promotion for the latest and greatest gimmicks to quit smoking. My AOL New alert popped up two this morning, about how much hope there is for people quitting now because of the advancements in science.

Here is my personal favorite of the two "news" items from this morning:
Smokers Get Cutting Edge Technology to Fight Age Old Habit in the New Year

RESTON, Va., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Millions of smokers attempt to kick their habit cold turkey, or by using nicotine replacement therapies and herbal elixirs, but quickly learn that quitting is not easy. This year, they can count on technology to get them through the rough spots with a handheld computer called QuitKey(TM). The QuitKey approach to quit smoking culminates 20 years of research. It was developed and proven effective with grants from the National Institutes of Health and
builds on the enormous success of LifeSign(TM), a first generation smoking cessation computer that uses the same gradual reduction technology. QuitKey first tracks the smoker's habit and then tailors a gradual quit plan that is just right for the smoker....


December 30th, 2003, 2:40 am#25

I just got the following Public Service Announcement in my AOL news alert:

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop Commemorates 40th Anniversary of the First Report on Smoking and Health with American Lung Association PSA"America's Family Doctor" Encourages Smokers to Celebrate Public Health Milestone by Quitting NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 12/29/2003 -- Today, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, often called "America's Family Doctor," joins the American Lung Association in unveiling a public service announcement (PSA) campaign commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. Released on January 11, 1964, the report represented a seminal moment in public health, as it was America's first widely publicized official recognition of smoking as a cause of cancer and other deadly diseases.

The PSA, entitled "Remember 1964," began airing on television stations nationwide in December. In the PSA, Dr. Koop reminds smokers of the Report's impact and issues a powerful call to action, urging smokers to celebrate the anniversary event by quitting.

"Although there have been great strides made in smoking cessation, there's still more work to be done," said Dr. Koop. "Approximately 46 million American adults still smoke, and the introduction of so-called 'reduced risk' tobacco products may pose a serious threat to public health if they have the effect of delaying or changing a smoker's decision to quit, increasing the exposure to risk of contracting a smoking-related disease. Fortunately, the past 40 years have brought new help and new hope for those who want to quit smoking. There are now FDA-approved tools available to help, including nicotine replacement therapies like the patch, gum and lozenge, as well as counseling, support programs and quitlines, all of which can increase a smoker's chances of becoming smoke-free."

"We are honored to be working with Dr. Koop, whom we have long admired and considered a pillar in the public health community. We are committed to helping people stop smoking and preventing young people from starting. This is the only way that tobacco-related lung disease will be eliminated for future generations," said John L. Kirkwood, president and CEO, American Lung Association. "We've made big strides over the last 40 years, but we still have work to do. We are proud to count this PSA among our many efforts to reduce the death and disease caused by smoking."

[I deleted a paragraph here with links to the Lung Association website and phone number.]

For more information about the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health or FDA-approved stop smoking products, please visit xxxxxx.

It seems to me now that the anniversary of the Surgeon General's report is what is being hijacked this time. (see message 32 in this string for reference to that comment.) Basically this news release is a commercial for quit smoking aids. You know what that first report did 40 years ago. It made the public aware that smoking caused lung cancer. It made the public aware that smoking was deadly. It made the public aware that they should quit smoking to save their lives. This commemorative press release briefly mentions this and spends the bulk of the message telling people that there are now products you can buy with nicotine to help you break free from cigarettes or even the "so-called 'reduced risk' tobacco products" that they refer to.

If anyone wants to find the original article or the links involved it will be easy. Just type Koop into any search engine that has listing for recent new reports. I am not however going to put the links up here. What I am going to do though is highlight some of the appalling comments you will find at that site linked at the end of the article where I have put the "xxxxxxxxx."

Comment one:
Sure, quitting was hard. But as you know by now, staying off cigarettes forever is every bit as difficult. The good news? It is possible!

First, you need to be aware that physical cravings will continue to pop up from time to time. That's why it pays to keep a stop-smoking Quit Aid like Nicorette®, NicoDerm® CQ® , or Committtm on hand long after you quit.

You'll also need to continue to fight off the temptation of being in certain situations without a cigarette. Don't smoke - not even a puff! Who knows how far that will set you back.
Comment two:
4. Get a stop-smoking Quit Aid

  • It's an undeniable fact - stop-smoking Quit_Aid products can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge.
These are some of the Quit Aids the FDA has approved:
  • Nicorette®- available over-the-counter
  • NicoDerm® CQ®- available over-the-counter
  • Committ TM available over-the-counter
  • Zyban® - available only by prescription

    Other, non-proven therapies include herbal remedies, acupuncture and hypnosis.

Comment 3:
5. Be prepared to relapse

Most relapses occur within the first 3 months. But don't be discouraged. Remember, most people try 7 times before they finally quit.

Comment 4:
The dreaded relapse

Any ex-smoker knows, quitting is so difficult that many have tried 7 or more times before succeeding. So if you relapse, you're not alone.

But you don't have to feel like a failure. In fact, you can learn from your current quit attempt and more likely stay a non-smoker in the future. And, by keeping a Quit Aids like Nicorette®, NicoDerm® CQ®, or CommitTM handy, you can help fight off the physical cravings

The source for the widely distributed press release is GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

GlaxoSmithKline makes Nicorette®, NicoDerm® CQ®, and the CommitTM lozenge.

I normally try not to go on an offensive with any industry, as we have written in our Freedom's mission statement:
We are hostile to nobody. Not even to the tobacco industry or pharmaceutical companies who have different agendas than ours. They exist because they want you to use their products. We exist because you want to stop using their products. We are not here to try to make anyone stop using their products either. We are here to help people quit using nicotine because they have already decided to do so.
I feel that I am would be being negligent now though if I did not point out a tactic that I have not seen so blatantly used before by the pharmaceutical industry. The idea that you should keep any source of nicotine on hand just in case is absolutely ludicrous. It gives the impression that people have to have some nicotine around in case they have an urge. The fact is ex-smokers don't have physical urges they have psychological . Taking a dose of nicotine to deal with a psychological trigger will basically start the physical process of withdrawal again. If a person does it he or she had better be prepared for three more days of withdrawal. He or she had better have a good supply of his or her quitting aid on hand again to get through the following days for he or she has started up an active need again.

I think the other way that this comment needs to be looked at is the idea that an ex-smoker has to have something on hand "just in case" the ex-smoker finds himself or herself wanting a cigarette. What might happen if a person gets a thought and has no aid? Will he or she stop breathing? Will his or her heart stop? Will he or she burst a blood vessel unless he or she takes nicotine product? None of these things will happen. For the record, most ex-smokers are going to get an occasional thought and if they have a nicotine product in hand and have a feeling that it is better than smoking, or that it is an either they are either going to take this NRT product or they are going to smoke, they are going to take the product. The bottom line is there was and always will be a third option, which is not to take the product and not smoke. The person will get through the event with their quit totally intact.

We are seeing a new level of nonsense now. Every one of our members are living proof that all you need to have with you to keep your quit strong and secure in times of major crisis, minor emergencies, or just plain random thoughts is a personal commitment to never take another puff!


I am attaching the first letter I ever wrote on a nicotine replacement product, written almost 20 years ago now. Its message is as pertinent now as it was back then:

Joel's Reinforcement Library

Pharmacological Crutches

Due to the recent release of Nicorette®, a chewing gum containing nicotine, I feel it is necessary to issue a special warning to all clinic participants who may be considering experimenting with this product. The gum is intended to be used by smokers to ease the severity of symptoms encountered during initial smoking cessation.

But the ex-smoker occasionally desires a cigarette months and even years after quitting. He may feel that the urge is due to a physiological residual effect of withdrawal. This thought may lead to the idea that trying the gum may help get rid of the desire. But, the actual cause of the thought for a cigarette is due to a psychologically triggered response. Some situation, person or event is causing the thought for a cigarette. While these occasional triggers may be annoying, they pass in seconds and may not occur again for hours, days or even weeks.

If the ex-smoker tries the gum, the end result will be tragic. For once he takes the first piece, his addiction to nicotine will be established. Once again he will be in nicotine withdrawal. Then he will have to make a choice--either relapsing into full fledged smoking or once again encountering the two week nicotine withdrawal. All this because he wanted to ease a thought for a cigarette which would have only lasted seconds.

Even the intended use of nicotine gum presents certain problems. Many hope the gum will be a panacea for the truly addicted smoker. But caution must be given to the non discriminate use by any smoker who feels that this new aide will help him break free from cigarettes. For while the gum may reduce the severity of initial withdrawal, it does so at a cost.

Normally, when a smoker quits, physical discomfort will peak within 72 hours and totally subside within two weeks. While the first three days may be traumatic, with proper support any smoker can successfully get through this period.

Use of the gum may reduce the initial severity of withdrawal when quitting. The ex-smoker may continue chewing the gum for months, never reaching peak withdrawal. But because blood nicotine never reaches the levels maintained by cigarettes, nor totally leaves the body, he feels minor withdrawal symptoms on a chronic basis. When he finally quits using the gum, he will probably experience the same withdrawal he would have originally encountered when quitting cigarettes.

The gum may help an addicted smoker break some of the psychological dependence and conditioned responses before experiencing potential difficult withdrawal. But the cost for this easing of initial symptoms is a prolonged chronic withdrawal followed by peak symptoms when giving up the gum. This is a lot of long term discomfort which could be avoided by simply ridding the body of all nicotine by quitting cold turkey.

When you quit smoking, you broke free from the addiction to nicotine. As long as you keep all nicotine out of your body you will never again have to worry about the health consequences of smoking or deal with the withdrawal of quitting. If you wish to stay free, don't try the gum, and as for cigarettes, cigars or pipes - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

NOTE: I originally wrote this in 1984. Since then, a number or similar products, (e.g., patches, gums, other devices are currently under development), have been introduced as over the counter cessation aids. The same principal applies to them all - they are transferring the delivery system of the drug nicotine. If the smoker simply stops, withdrawal will peak and start to subside within 72 hours. Use of the agents will unnecessarily prolong the cessation process as well as add to the expense.