Stop-smoking products aren't always enough
By Sameh Fahmy
Kicking a smoking habit is hard to do.
According to the American Lung Association, 35 percent of smokers try to quit every year but only 2.5 percent succeed.
Every day, people try one of many options available to them to try to quit smoking. Despite the over-the-counter availability of products, experts caution that there's no magic bullet.
A study in the Sept. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that since 1996, the year they became available without a prescription, nicotine replacement products such as the patch and gum have stopped being effective in the long term. The authors speculate the products fail because users don't follow instructions and don't seek behavior counseling.
"I don't care what product you use," says Pam Krusac, a respiratory therapist and nicotine counselor in Nashville. "If you don't change your habits and find out what your triggers are, in three months you'll be back where you were."
With that in mind, here's what experts say about available products:
Smoking cessation classes: A good starting point, the classes offer strategies to quit smoking. Many include topics such as weight and stress management.
Nicotine replacement products: Prescriptions are required for nasal sprays and inhalers. Nicotine gum and patches are available over the counter. Dennis Sprouse, a registered respiratory therapist in Nashville, recommends that anyone considering using nicotine replacement see a doctor to discuss potential side effects.
Zyban: A prescription drug also marketed as the antidepressant Wellbutrin, Zyban makes people crave cigarettes less. For some, it makes cigarettes taste bad. Krusac says it takes 10 days to two weeks of use before it's fully effective. She recommends people try using Zyban with a nicotine replacement method such as an inhaler.
Hypnosis: Jeanne Stedrak, a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist, uses hypnosis to suggest to smokers they need to take care of their bodies and that smoking is incompatible with a healthy lifestyle.