Recently presented research indicates why quitting smoking may be more difficult

David Kaufman, M.D. Health Pro
  • I would just like to share with you some new research about quitting smoking.


    Recently presented research indicates why quitting smoking may be more difficult. Dr. David Sachs of the Palo Alto (California) Center for Pulmonary Disease Prevention reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians that smokers who are enrolled in formal quit smoking programs have higher levels of nicotine dependency that people who were trying to quit 20 years ago.


    Using a scale known as the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, Dr. Sachs and his co-workers found that the average nicotine dependence score among people currently trying to quit is 7.44 (out of 10), indicating a high level of nicotine dependence. In 1996, the average score was 7.02, and in 1989 it was 6.65. The total percentage of patients who were classified as having a "high" level of nicotine dependence has also increased over the years. It should be noted that all of these scores indicated a "high" level of nicotine dependence, according to the scale. If you smoke, try taking the questionnaire to determine your own level of nicotine dependence.

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    What does this mean? Partly, the increasing level of nicotine dependence may mean that individuals who still smoke are the ones who have more difficulty quitting. That is, those who found it easy to quit were able to quit without having to enroll in a formal quit smoking program. It also implies that individuals who are enrolled in such programs may require medications such as nicotine replacement (patches, gum or nasal sprays), bupropion (ZYBANR) or varenicline (CHANTIXR) to help treat nicotine dependence.


    A recent report in the LA Times reported on a survey done by Dr. Michael A. Wilson, a physician in the US Navy Reserve, who found that Navy and Marine Corps personnel stationed in Iraq are twice as likely to use tobacco as average Americans. About half smoke cigarettes, and one-third chew tobacco, and many do both. Three-quarters want to quit. The physician believed that the increased rates of smoking are related to factors such as peer pressure, boredom, stress relief, the need to stay awake, and to copy role models (usually higher ranking personnel).


    Other recent research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology suggests that quitting smoking may improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a common disease that results in joint pain, deformation, and disability.

    Quitting smoking may also help improve mental function in recovering alcoholics. Smoking is very common (60-75%) among alcoholics, and many alcoholics continue to smoke to deal with the stress of recovering from alcoholism. Regardless, quitting smoking improves decision-making and short-term memory, among other thinking skills.


    So, a bunch more reasons why quitting smoking is helpful . . . did you really need more?



Published On: November 03, 2008