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 them.
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. In 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.

Category: Science