HOW PEOPLE STOP SMOKING: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

Rosalie H. Wax
1978 Social Thought and Research  
What happens' as people successfully attempt to quit smoking is analyzed '£!lith the aid of data from a pilot survey of thirty ex-smokers supplemented by other types of materials. It becomes apparent that stopping smoking was, for most of the respondents, a private and individual process involving conscious self-direction and selfmanipulation. From this process the individual emerged as a new person who (1) has completely lost interest in smoking or (2) knows that he will never smoke again. If
more » ... er smoke again. If the essence of addiction is the difficulty, or inability, of the consumer to discontinue his usage of the drug, then tobacco is surely among the most addictive of practices. The typical smoker can narrate a number of attempts to quit (Sencer, 1976:45), and even some attempts that seemed to be successful for days, weeks, or even months, only to be followed by relapse and a continuation of the practice .that is then sustained at a level as high or higher than initially (Brecher, 1972:214-215, 220-228; Hunt and Matarazzo, 1970:76). Under the circumstances it is noteworthy . that a significant proportion of smokers do manage to quit; but .it . -is regrettable that there have been so few studies of how "th~se fortunate individuals managed to liberate themselves, for this : would add, not only to our knowledge of how to assist others in quitting smoking, but also to an understanding of the mechanisms of human addiction (Schwartz and Dubitzky, 1968; Tamerin and Eisinger, 1972) . Perhaps because smoking tobacco does not seem to offer much intrinsic satisfaction, much traditional inquiry has focused on why people smoke. But the theories which claim to answer "Why?" do not seem to assist those who would not desist.
doi:10.17161/str.1808.4823 fatcat:v45ug4cqwzg7pk2wdgcme5lf7e