The Importance of Quit Attempts for Tobacco Users

The California Smokers’ Helpline provides vital information about quit attempts and helping encourage and provide support to smokers who want to quit. About 50 percent of smokers had made a quit attempt in 1990. By 1999, it had increased to about 60 percent. Unfortunately, since then the percentage has stopped rising.

Quit attempts are vitally important important because most tobacco users must try repeatedly to quit before they succeed. Every percentage point increase means an additional 36,000 smokers trying to quit each year. Fortunately the percentage of smokers who say they want to quit is approximately 70 percent, displaying a base receptivity to quit.

The process by which tobacco users cycle through quitting and relapsing until they finally quit for good can be conceptualized as a Quit Machine. Daily smokers either quit altogether and become former smokers, or in some cases reduce their smoking to the point that they are low-rate or non-daily smokers. Low-rate smoking is often a jumping-off point for quitting altogether. Among recent former smokers, relapse is common. They may relapse to non-daily smoking or go all the way back to daily smoking. Their desire to quit usually remains, leading them to cycle through the process again and again, till they become former smokers long enough to be less vulnerable to relapse.

The best thing for smokers who have a desire to quit is this: Get on the Quit Machine! Cycle through it as expeditiously as possible until you successfully quit.