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Smokers can quit without nicotine-replacement products. Really.

February 9, 2010 |  6:00 am

Nicotine Contrary to the TV commercials and magazine advertisements, you don't have to use a nicotine-replacement product to quit smoking, say two doctors writing in the new issue of PLoS Medicine.

Many smokers are able to quit unassisted, say Simon Chapman and Ross MacKenzie of the School of Public Health in Sydney, Australia. They criticize what they call the "medicalization of smoking cessation," because it's not backed by evidence. Indeed, an analysis of 511 studies published in 2007 and 2008 show that two-thirds to three-quarters of smokers stop unaided and most ex-smokers report that cessation was less difficult than expected.

The pharmaceutical industry has promoted the "medicalization of smoking cessation," in part by funding smoking cessation studies that use the various nicotine aids or medications. What's really needed, the authors of the essay say, is some balance in the messages smokers receive about quitting. That is: You can do it, and it may not cost you a dime.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Feature Photo Service

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Comments (12)

Years ago, I thought about how gross the smoke was, decided I did not want to do it, and quit immediately. Is it about understanding one's will is good?

Cold turkey is the way to go. Don't give any of your money to big pharma. If you need some nicotine, try the electronic cigarette which works much better than the patch and is not produced by big pharma.

I quit smoking without any aids, or pills...All it takes is a will to stop, and
then stick to it, no mater what stresses you may encounter.
I'd been a heavy smoker since age 19 (2 packs-a-day), and finally came to senses, at age 52.. Just got tired of coughing, getting bronchitis and colds every 6 months, and having smelly clothes around..So on my 52nd birthday I finally decided to give up the "crutch" cold turkey.. I had headaches for two weeks,but I stuck it out and have been smoke free
since then. That was back in 1992...

While pharm industry marketing suggests that cold turkey quitting is nearly impossible, more smokers will quit cold turkey during 2010 than all other quitting methods combined. There's just one lesson determining the outcome ... just one puff after quitting and up to 50% of our brain's a4b2-type acetylcholine receptors will become occupied by nicotine within ten seconds. While we may walk away from that puff feeling like we got away with it, rest assured, your minds' priorities teacher (its dopamine pathways) just recorded the event in high definition memory, and your brain will soon be begging for more. There was always only one rule ... no nicotine just one hour, challenge and day at time, never take another puff, dip, vape or chew!

I strongly feel that the biggest contributing factor to whether or not someone can/will successfully quit smoking for good is how much THEY want to. Most of the people I know who have not yet quit for good have either tried to do it because someone else wanted them to quit or have not yet made up their mind that they can do it. I would always suggest that people try to stop "naturally" and try medical options only after repeated (2-3) natural attempts fail. I quit in 2000 (after smoking for 13 years) with the help of 4-6 weeks of Zyban, but my success in staying stopped long-term is all mental. Looking back, I probably didn't need the Zyban, but I used it and attained the results I was looking for. I can now stand next to smokers without any issues, but am convinced that actually smoking even one cigarette can and would instantly flip that old switch in my brain and the struggle would be on again. I don't ever want to go through that again, but think I could successfully as long as I made the choice to do so.

Quit cold turkey and it's been four months on February 17th 2010. It was easier than I thought it was going to be!!!!

The ads from drug companies exploiting this issue reinforce the notion that quitting requires some sort or superhuman effort, thereby ensuring that people will absorb the message that one drug is needed to quit another drug. Utter nonsense (albeit lucrative nonsense for pharma).

When I decided to quit, I gave myself a period of time in which I would allow myself to smoke absolutely guilt free. The price for that guilt-free smoking: that I would quit, cold-turkey, no excuses, on a specific day in the future. So, when Valentine's Day 1990 arrived, having had a full year of guilt-free smoking, I laid down the nails and never looked back. Yeah, I was miserable (and miserable to live with) for a couple of weeks, but it didn't kill me.

Give pharma the bird. You don't need them to quit. You can do it yourself, for free.

I absolutely agree with this article! I quit smoking 20 years ago and my biggest aid in doing so was breaking down any denial I had about this nasty habit. I used my brain to visualize the long term effects of smoking on myself and those closest to me. It became almost like a mantra while I was still smoking to visualize what I was doing to myself. Then one day came the obvious contradiction: If I care about myself why am I hurting myself? About that same time I came down with a nasty flu and before I knew it I had not smoked a cigarette in 5 days. I took that as a sign and have not had a cigarette since. I gave up so little to gain so much!


I agree with you guys and I"m glad people are posting experiences that they quit without any patches, hypnotism, accupuncture, etc.... Most people just put excuses, I quit as well without any help. Its not hard, you don't want to do it, you don't do it. The whole thing about "oh, I can't" or "I gain weight when i stop trying to smoke" is BS. Its going to be more pain when you have cancer in your lung or throat. And its going to also be painful to the family you leave behind because of your selfish act.

I quit using nicotine gum. I chewed one piece, and it was so awful I decided that between that and a nic fit, I'd take the few moments of sweaty nervousness over the holy-god-I'm-gonna-barf feeling of the gum ANY day of the week. The thought of the gum made cold turkey seem much easier. Thanks for being horrendously disgusting, Nicorette!

Smokers use nicotine and smoking as a very effective and immediate response to basic physical cues. Smoking has become a behavioral pattern that deals with changes in breathing and muscle tension that are at the core of anger, boredom, fatigue, hunger,... life.

Quitting smoking requires 1- a desire to quit, 2- becoming more aware of breathing and muscle tension in the moment, 3- choosing to take a deep breath or stretch a tense muscle.

In the case of smoking, drugs (nicotine and others) do not help smokers quit smoking. Drugs simply make the pharmaceutical industry richer so they can spend more money convincing smokers, governments, and the medical community that smoking is a condition that can only be 'cured' with their drugs.

Thank you for your article on Chapman and MacKenzie's report. The truth needs to be repeated often and loudly.

I smoke Camel cigarettes. I like the flavor of tobacco and I enjoy the woozy head rush I get when I smoke - like, ahhhh. I have to admit, I only smoke about six cigarettes a day. When I smoke fewer than that the head rush is even stronger - what a high.

Stop? I really don't want to stop. Incidentally, I also eat raw meat quite frequently, put tons of sugar in all my beverages, also whole milk, eggs, salt, butter, and fat in all forms. My secret to a healthy body despite all of this - MODERATION. It's that simple.


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