Maybe you've tried to quit smoking a time or two and are leery about trying again. Improve your chances of success by joining a stop-smoking (smoking-cessation) program.
What are the benefits?
Though these programs may not work for everyone, they can offer certain advantages, including professional assistance from trained counselors. And depending on the program you choose, you may also have access to:
- Classes and seminars
- One-on-one counseling
- Telephone and/or Web-based support
- Group support
No two programs work the same way. However, the best ones can help you:
- Develop a personal quitting plan
- Learn how to avoid smoking triggers
- Learn how to handle your cravings
- Get social support
- Stay on track
But some programs offer a better chance at success than others. And some may not be worth your time at all. But how do you tell the difference?
What to look for
When deciding on a program, you want to choose one that's going to work for you. Here are some things to consider.
Duration: When it comes to smoking-cessation programs, longer is usually better. Investing more time in it improves your odds for success. For that reason, try to avoid a program that ends too quickly. At the very least, it should last 2 weeks and meet a minimum of 4 times. Each session should last at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Sponsorship: Look for a program backed by a reputable organization, such as the American Cancer Society or the American Lung Association. Quality programs may also be available through local clinics or hospitals, or your city or county health department.
Certification: Is the person leading the program a licensed counselor or clinical professional? Does he or she have any training or certification in smoking cessation? The more qualified the program leader is, the greater are your chances for success.
Structure: Is this a group program, or does it meet one-on-one? And which do you prefer? Some like the extra support offered by a group setting. Others are less comfortable with it. Think about what you want before signing up.
Availability: How much access will you have to your program leader or counselor? Will there be a number you can call if you need extra help? Will you have Web access? Many programs now offer these additional features. Having extra support like this might help you avoid a slip-up.
A few red flags
Not every program is up to snuff, however. Be wary of ones that:
- Seem too expensive: Most reputable programs are either low-cost or free.
- Make unrealistic promises: Quitting smoking is almost never easy. It usually requires effort and comes with a few setbacks.
- Won't supply information or credentials: Without these, it's impossible to tell what you're getting into.
Finding a reputable program isn't as hard as you might think. It's often possible to find one through your employer or health insurance company. But you can also contact:
- Nicotine Anonymous (1-877-879-6422 or www.nicotine-anonymous.org)
- Your state's quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW)
- Your local American Cancer Society chapter
- Your doctor or local health department
Remember, having a smoke-free home and workplace also makes it easier to quit smoking.
Created on 09/13/2011
Updated on 09/21/2011
- Minnesota Department of Health. Guidelines for reviewing your lifestyle change program.
- American Cancer Society. Guide to quitting smoking.
- Lee C, Kahende J. Factors associated with successful smoking cessation in the United States, 2000. American Journal of Public Health. 2007;97(8):1503-1509.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking cessation.