Essay by Dan BetterCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1997

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Studies of ex-smokers show that their risk of dying from smoking-related disease decreases with each year

of non smoking. Encouraged by such evidence, more than 40 million people in the U.S. quit smoking in

the year following the 1964 surgeon general's report. The proportion of males who smoke decreased from

more than 60 percent to about 25 percent; however, the percentage of women who smoke cigarettes

increased. Smoking also became more prevalent among young adults, with about 29 percent of high

school seniors admitting to smoking in 1975; but by 1987 this proportion decreased to 18.7 percent.

There are programs that exist to help smokers quit. Some involve group support, whereas others use

aversive techniques in which participants smoke many cigarettes rapidly to the point of becoming sick of


More than 30 million persons in the U.S. say that they would like to quit smoking but cannot.

One hypothesis to explain this problem is that the smoker craves the effect of the nicotine in the smoke.


a 1988 report, the surgeon general declared nicotine to be an addictive drug comparable to other addictive

substances in its ability to induce dependence. The report also called the monetary and human costs far

greater than those attributable to cocaine, alcohol, or heroin.

Attempts to help persons quit smoking through counseling, participation in support groups, and, for those

with a strong physical dependence on nicotine, substitution of chewing gum containing nicotine to lessen

withdrawal symptoms.