Quit Smoking Ads and Quit Smoking Aids – Are They Working?


You can hardly turn on the TV anymore without seeing an advertisement that is intended to entice people to quit smoking. In many local communities, legislation has been enacted to prohibit smoking in most public places. Some states have even adopted stringent no smoking regulations. Recently the Centers for Disease Control has embarked on a very expensive media campaign aimed at the smoking problem.

The statistics are sadly disappointing, though. Over the past 3 decades the rate of smoking in the U.S. has remained roughly at about 20% of the population, in spite of all of these media campaigns!

Likewise, we have seen a bevy of “smoking aids” coming to the market over the past decade that include many forms and types of nicotine patches, gums, sprays, and vapors as well as many, many types of electronic cigarettes. The pharmaceutical companies and the manufacturers of these aids are making a bold attempt to find ways to reduce the smoking enigma.

These Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products simply introduce the chemical nicotine into the human body orally, nasally or transdermally. The idea is that by getting their nicotine addiction satisfied in such a way while not introducing the harmful tars and chemicals of tobacco, smokers will have a much healthier life. Of course, the fallacy in this thinking is that the nicotine addiction remains!

Many pharmaceutical companies have also come to market with drug therapies intended to help a smoker break their nicotine addiction. These have been successful to a limited degree, although the risks of taking such drugs are becoming increasingly clear. If you just listen to a TV ad for one of these varenicline products, the bulk of the ad is used to warn of the harmful side effects, including the potential for suicide or death! (That is a pretty serious side effect!)

There are also several lawsuits currently pending, including large, class action suits related to damages or death suffered by patients who took those prescribed medications. For that reason, many physicians are no longer prescribing the verenicline products.

With all of these “quick fix” solutions to the smoking problem being pushed onto the market and into our homes, one would think that, as a society, we are making great strides in the abatement of smoking. But, unfortunately, we are not!

The quit smoking ads, while wonderfully intended to educate smokers as to the risks, are having the opposite effect with many, hardened smokers! Smoking is not a logical issue. Nobody ever started smoking for a good, logical reason and nobody continues to smoke because they think that it is somehow good for them.

Therefore, smokers will not usually quit for purely a logical reason. They have already heard all of the statistics about how harmful smoking is to themselves and others – and that has not compelled them to quit! Piling on more logical reasons and graphics of dying people has not.

After a person has been smoking for a while, they have a built-in defense mechanism against efforts to try to get them to quit! They come up with all sorts of rationalization and justification as to why they should not quit. Getting hit with more and more reasons to quit just strengthens their resolve to keep on puffing!

What is needed is education! We need to educate smokers about the psychological, sociological and cultural elements that are going on within them and, when they finally recognize that smoking is much more than simple nicotine addiction, they can then be influenced to come to the conclusion the quitting is a very good thing.

Galileo once said “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it within himself.” What is needed now is more education on all of the aspects of smoking, but the players selling the drugs and NRT aids that deal only with the nicotine addiction are not inclined to do so.



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