Smoking is an addiction, not a habit, reminds lung group

Stop calling smoking a habit; it’s an addiction. That’s what the Ontario Lung Association wants Canadians to remember as it launches a campaign calling on the media, the public and the government to abolish the word “habit” when it comes to smoking. The lung group says “habit” suggests that continuing to smoke is something that one chooses. The truth is nicotine is as addictive as many other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine.

“Too many Ontarians believe smoking is a habit, implying it is something easily overcome with willpower alone, not acknowledging how addictive nicotine is and why it is so difficult for people to quit,” George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association, said in a news release. “If it (were) easy to quit smoking, there would be about a million people who would quit today,” said Habib.

“Smoking is so much more than a habit and Ontarians need help to quit successfully.  We need to correct some damaging myths when it comes to dealing with this addiction so that smokers receive the proper support.” The Ontario Lung Association also released the results of a survey it commissioned from Leger Marketing which found that almost one in five smokers believe smoking is only a habit. Smokers were least likely to believe smoking is an addiction alone, at 27 per cent, compared to 35 per cent of former smokers, and 46 per cent of non-smokers.

The survey also found that the majority of respondents (67 per cent) believe that stop-smoking aids, both prescription and over-the-counter, should be funded in part or in whole by the government. If smoking cessation aids were available free-of-charge, 79 per cent of Ontario smokers would be more likely to use at least one in their quit attempts.

The lung group notes that only 5 to 10 per cent of smokers manage to successfully quit cold turkey, and the average smoker tries five times before succeeding. The Ontario Lung Association wants to see a comprehensive smoking cessation system. It says governments and private insurers should provide more access to medications as well as counselling to help those struggling to overcome their addictions to nicotine. “The Ontario Lung Association believes that a comprehensive smoking cessation plan will not only improve the health of Ontarians but will also yield enormous savings to the health system according to our research…” Habib said. 

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