There are only two ways to reduce tobacco use: prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and encourage and help users to quit. To make a significant reduction in global tobacco-related deaths, current smokers must quit. Unless they do, tobacco deaths will rise dramatically over the next 40 years, irrespective of whether youth uptake is reduced.
Some improvement of health is seen soon after quitting, and much of the harm can be eliminated over time, even for lifelong smokers.
General tobacco control policies, such as disseminating health information, mandating smoke-free areas, and implementing tax increases, can encourage smokers to quit. Most ex-smokers quit successfully on their own (“cold turkey”), but an increasing number of programs and aids are available to help smokers stop, some more effective than others. Nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patch, and inhaler) and pharmacologic agents such as bupropion, varenicline, and newer agents such as cystisine are now available in many countries. Some jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong, have even introduced quitting services for teens. Many people change their health behaviors easily,
while others struggle through a difficult cycle of addiction.
Communication technologies—such as telephone quit lines, text messaging, online counseling, and social media—offer support. Psychological and behavioral therapies, particularly behavior modification, but also less-tested modalities such as hypnosis, meditation, and acupuncture, also have been employed.
States can reduce death and disease by reducing smoking prevalence. It’s that simple.Gary Giovino, University of Buffalo, US, 2009