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5 Methods to Quit Smoking: Which Is the Most Effective?

24.10.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I’m 35 years old. I’ve been smoking since high school — I wanted to keep up with the cool girls. First I smoked a couple of cigarettes a day, and then — more and more. By the time I was 20, I was smoking at least half a pack every day. Now I smoke 1-1.5 packs.

For the last few years I’ve been often thinking that it was time to quit smoking. I want to, but I can’t. During all this time I took a “break” only for a year when I was pregnant. But as soon as I gave birth, I started smoking again. I’m always fighting with my husband — he keeps saying every day that I need to quit the habit. I began to feel worse — cough, short breath, unattractive grey skin..

I’ve tried to quit smoking using many methods. I’ve used pills and patches and even tried to replace regular cigarettes with electronic ones. In my case, none of this worked. It’s time to stop smoking. But my “intent” simply won’t develop into decisive action.”

– Kristina, 35 y.o.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), Russia ranks 1st in the world in terms of tobacco use. In our country about 39.1% of the population smokes – that’s about 44 million people. By the age of 12 30% of schoolchildren smoke their first cigarette, and high school already has many more adolescent smokers: 50% of boys and 40% of girls. [1] The statistics are very disappointing given the harm of nicotine dependence. In the article we will look at the causes of the addiction, and consider most popular ways to quit smoking once and for all.


  1. Why do we smoke?
  2. The harms of smoking: 5 reasons for giving up the bad habit
  3. How to quit smoking? 5 popular methods

Why do we smoke?

ways to quit smoking

Dependence on cigarettes is formed primarily on a psychological level, and only then on a physiological one. Smoker likes the ritual and smell of smoke, it is a way to calm down in a strained situation. When a person makes a whiff, nicotine contributes to the release of dopamine (pleasure hormone) into the blood – thus contributing to the consolidation of the pathological behavior model. It is believed that psychological dependence is formed after 1-3 months of regular consumption of cigarettes. That’s why even novice smokers find it so difficult to quit smoking on their own.

On the physical level, at first human body “fights” with regularly incoming poisonous substances. Hence nausea and dizziness in smokers. But over time body “gets used” to the constant intake of nicotine into the blood. According to narcologists, persistent physical dependence develops after 6-12 months of regular cigarette consumption. [2]

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But if physical dependence does not occur immediately, then why does a person continue to puff away? Psychologists highlight the following specific reasons:

  1. Cigarettes help to bolster self-esteem

Have you ever wondered why most smokers picked up their first cigarette in their teens? Teenager mistakenly thinks that smoking helps him assert himself and try on the role of an adult, to protest against the belief that he is not a grown-up yet.

  1. Cigarettes help to establish communication

Smoking is akin to a ritual that can unite even strangers. For shy, insecure personalities, it becomes a magic wand, helping to make contacts. First, one interlocutor will ask for a lighter, then talk about the weather, and then the discussion about high prices for cigarettes, politicians, etc. will begin.

  1. Cigarettes have calming effect 

Many smokers are convinced that cigarettes for them are the best way to relieve accumulated fatigue and nerve strain. On the one hand, it is true. Thanks to the release of dopamine into the blood, one can feel some relaxation. However, very soon the effect of pleasure hormones melts away and the person again has low energy, needing more “doping” in the form of another puff. This is how a bad habit develops, i.e. an unhealthy pattern of behavior: stress — cigarette — stress. 

Meanwhile, many psychologists think that the belief that “cigarettes help to calm down” is not even related to the physiological processes that take place in the body when nicotine hits the blood, but to the smoking ritual. It’s a “five-minute calm” when a person can get distracted from his problems. However, there are many psychological techniques that help to relieve the stress in an emergency — for example, taking a deep breath and counting to 10. [2]

Smoking is the worst way to deal with stress.

  1. The desire to impress others

Often a cigarette becomes just a part of the image. According to psychologists, this is more often the case for women. Many of them smoke not even because they want to relieve stress, but to demonstrate impeccable manicure, graceful fingers, and sensual lips. All these are stereotypes imposed by movies and glossy magazines. [2] But an innocent “folly” may develop into a serious addiction — and then a woman would have to search for a way to quit smoking.

The harms of smoking: 5 reasons for giving up the bad habit

why smoke

Both smokers and their loved ones suffer from harmful effects of tobacco smoke. Addicts seem not to take seriously the arguments of doctors and scientists in favor of giving up cigarettes. Unable to overcome the addiction, the addict tries not to think about the negative impact of nicotine on the body. But the statistics are not encouraging: the life expectancy of smokers in developed countries is on average 13 years less than that of non-smokers. [1]

Think about your own health and the health of loved ones who unwillingly became passive smokers, and find an effective way to quit smoking once and for all. Diseases provoked by tobacco smoking should be considered a strong argument in favor of abandoning the harmful habit:

  1. Cancers

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 deaths caused by trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer are due to tobacco addiction. In other words, by quitting smoking it is possible to avoid 90% of pathologies.

  1. Ulcer disease

It has been proven that regular inhalation of cigarette smoke increases the risk of ulcers. If the smoker with the history of stomach disease breaks the addiction it is possible to achieve persistent remission. [2]

  1. Osteoporosis

Smoking contributes to bone loss thereby increasing the risk of musculoskeletal diseases and fractures.

  1. Tooth diseases

In addition to the deterioration of the color of tooth enamel, smoking can provoke the development of gingivitis and periodontitis, and in particularly severe cases even contributes to the loss of teeth.

  1. Cognitive Depression

Nicotine has a detrimental effect not only on lungs and cardiovascular system but also on brain function. Find the best way to quit smoking to keep your mind clear for years to come.

Scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute conducted an experiment involving more than 500 smokers. The study was aimed at finding out how nicotine affects individual brain structures. According to scientists, smoking negatively affects the work of the part of the brain, which plays an important role in the formation of cognitive functions — attention, memory, and assimilation of new information.

How to quit smoking? 5 popular ways

smoking kills

The problem of tobacco smoking is global. Experts from many countries are interested in helping smokers by offering them the most painless ways to quit smoking cigarettes. Which methods are the most popular?

  1. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

“I have tried to quit smoking many times. I know everything about classic and latest methods of dealing with the bad habit. My best result is 5 months without cigarettes.

I always choose the easiest way to quit smoking — nicotine pills. They may be helping in some way, but the psychological craving for cigarettes persists. It’s what’s stopping me from breaking up with a bad habit. I can’t quit smoking at home yet. After the pill course I start smoking again.”

— Igor, 33 y.o.

Patches, sprays, pills, gum with nicotine in the composition, lollipops — all of it is a nicotine replacement therapy. This is not a new way to quit smoking. The drugs help the smoker to overcome the withdrawal syndrome, which inevitably occurs 12-24 hours after the last cigarette smoked. Their action is aimed at “supplying” the body with small portions of nicotine, without which it is extremely difficult for the “poisoned” body to function normally.

This easy way to quit smoking is suitable for those who have decided to part with the addiction at a stroke but cannot tolerate severe symptoms that occur when getting nicotine out of the system. Its main task is to facilitate the process of quitting smoking. In some cases, when a person is determined, nicotine replacement therapy works. However, the psychological craving for cigarettes remains for a very long time — it is the psychological craving that pushes a person to breakdowns.

Despite the fact that nicotine replacement drugs are available in pharmacies without a prescription, it is better to consult a specialist before taking them. They have a number of contraindications, which are important to consider. A group of people, such as pregnant women and people with chronic heart disease, should not use them at all when quitting smoking 
  1. Medical methods

Many of those who trust only doctors immediately dismiss dubious methods of anti-smoking and seek help from a narcologist. The professional chooses the optimal regimen that helps the patient to quit smoking – it is either a sharp rejection of cigarettes or a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked. Sedative drugs that relieve stress in the most difficult 2 weeks of fighting a bad habit and nicotine replacement therapy can also be prescribed. In order for the patient to understand how to quit smoking and not put on weight, the professional will surely recommend observing a healthy diet and exercise. In general, you will have to tune in to a healthy lifestyle.

This is one of the most effective ways to quit smoking. However, it works only if the smoker is ready to comply with all the doctor’s prescriptions and is able to take the situation under his own control.

  1. E-cigarettes instead of regular ones

Many believe that e-cigarettes are the fastest way to quit smoking. Allegedly, they help to overcome the craving for tobacco smoke. It is a dubious claim that pushes smokers to simply “switch” from tobacco to fragrant smoke. Perhaps this myth originated on the basis that e-cigarettes were originally promoted in the market as a safe alternative to tobacco smoking.

Experts believe that e-cigarette vapor is indeed less harmful than tobacco. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe! Yes, there is no nicotine in e-cigarette cartridges, but there is a large number of other chemicals. Nothing is known about their effect on the body in the long term. [2]

The effectiveness of the method was not scientifically proven. It is quite clear that it is possible to find a healthier way to quit smoking without e-cigarettes. When used regularly, they cause a strong dependence in the same way as regular cigarettes.

  1. Allen Carr Method

“I have tried many methods to combat the bad habit. I even watched some videos to find ways to quit smoking which supposedly cause an aversion to cigarettes.

Once I came across the book of A.Carr which I immediately began to read.  Maybe at that moment I didn’t have a strong commitment to quit smoking; therefore this method didn’t work with me. I’m still smoking. But my friend hasn’t touched a cigarette for 4 years and is very proud of it. For him, the book turned out to be a real way to quit smoking.”

– Anna, 25 y.o.

It has become very fashionable to quit smoking “through the book” — alone or in virtual support groups. A. Carr, the world-renowned founder of a network of clinics against addiction, offers his own unique method: to read a book and forget about cigarettes. On the Internet, there are a lot of both negative and positive reviews on this way of parting with a bad habit.

What is the basis of Allen Carr’s revolutionary way of quitting? The idea is that the smoker could get rid of the fear of giving up cigarettes. In his book, the author suggests for addicts to reasonably assess the situation and understand that cigarette does not bring pleasure, but only removes withdrawal syndrome after the previous cigarette. It is something of a vicious circle that the addict is invited to break after careful introspection. In the book A. Carr focuses not on the harm faced by a smoker, but on the advantages that he will gain after giving up this habit. [2]

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  1. Behavioral therapy

The essence of behavioral therapy when quitting smoking is that the psychologist helps addicted women and men to change unhealthy behavior patterns, because it is the internal attitudes the addict’s behavior relies on that to a large extent make it impossible to give up cigarettes. 

The 7Spsy behavior modification technique is one of the most effective ways of behavioral therapy. The training is based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A. A. Ukhtomsky, etc. The training will help to get rid of the bad habit as painlessly as possible, even for those who have already tried several methods for giving up cigarettes.

The course will help to form a healthy behavior pattern and forget about smoking as a means to relieve stress once and for all. You’ll realize that a cigarette in your hands does not make you more successful and more beautiful. You’ll understand that it is pleasant to communicate with people not only in the smoking room — you just have to believe in your own strength. By capturing a positive mindset you will be able to break the poisonous habit without fear that you will give up in the first stressful situation.

The 7Spsy Behavior Modification Technique training is designed for up to 6 weeks. Lessons are held remotely. You get all the advice of a psychologist by phone and e-mail and in online chats. Working with specialists is confidential. If for one reason or another you do not want to tell friends and colleagues that you are quitting smoking through the special training, they will not know about it.


  1. «Matematika o vrede kureniya» (zhurnal «Mir na poroge peremen: Ekonomika. Upravlenie. Pravo), A. D. Vanina (https://cyberleninka.ru/article/v/matematika-o-vrede-kureniya).
  2. «Addiktologiya: psihologiya i psihoterapiya zavisimostej», 2006 g., G. Starshenbaum.
  3. «Legkij sposob brosit’ kurit’», 2014 g., A. Karr.