new-years-resolutions

More smokers make New Year's resolution to quit

Jan. 8, 2013 at 3:06 PM ET

By Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily 

Twice as many smokers say they plan to quit the habit this year compared with last year, a new poll by an advocacy group finds.

Thirty-four percent of the U.S. smokers surveyed who made any New Year's resolution said they plan to quit smoking in 2013, compared with 18 percent in 2012, the poll found.

To conduct the poll, researchers with Legacy, an organization that advocates that people quit smoking, surveyed 1,550 U.S. smokers ages 18 and over via email who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. The survey was not a representative sample of the U.S. population.

The majority, 67 percent, said the increasing cost of cigarettes was the main reason for quitting, and 58 percent cited concerns over the health risks linked to smoking.

More than half, 53 percent, said they had not spoken with their doctor about quitting in the last year. This finding "shows that we have a significant missed opportunity on our hands," said Cheryl Healton, president of Legacy. "Health-care providers play a critical role in reaching smokers with support and resources for quitting," Healton said.

Even a 10-minute conversation with a doctor who delivers advice about quitting can help, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and death from chronic obstructive lung disease, the CDC says.

Both prescription medications and over-the-counter cessation therapies, such as gums, lozenges and patches, can improve a smoker's chances of quitting, the researchers said. Of those surveyed, 39 percent said they had used a nonprescription product in their last attempt to quit smoking, and 13 percent said they had used a prescription product.

Last year, those who made a New Year's resolution to quit smoking stopped smoking for about a month, on average, before lighting up again; and for many, it was the longest they had abstained from the habit.

Previous studies have suggested tobacco smoking increases the number of receptors in the brain that bind to nicotine, making it difficult for smokers to quit.

Withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, anxiety and increased appetite, can lead people to relapse, according to the CDC.

Few people who want to quit smoking have a long-term plan, the researchers said. Speaking with a health-care provider and making a plan for the future can help, the researchers said.

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