Everyone can quit smoking – even hardcore addicts

Non-smoking at EUR
Non-smoking at EUR

Contrary to common perception, even hardcore smokers are not completely unwilling to quit and could be involved in tobacco control. This is what Jeroen Bommelé from Trimbos Institute stated this week when he defended his PhD on the subject at Erasmus MC. Good news, since this month is Stoptober.

For many years now the Dutch government has tried to make people quit smoking. The raising of prices, the terrifying photos on a package of cigarettes and other measures have turned out to be effective. Between 1990 and 2015 the percentage of smokers aged 18+ in the Netherlands decreased from 37,5% to 26,1%. The percentage of daily smokers in the same period dropped from 32,1% to 19,4%, and the amount of hardcore smokers went down from 12,2% in 2001 to about 8,2% in 2012.

Most want to quit
‘Even hardcore smokers, as we call the small group of established and frequent smokers, are willing to stop under certain circumstances and with some help from anti-tobacco campaigns,’ claims Bommelé, who did an online intervention on the subject. Hardcore smokers are a special group of smokers that require special attention in tobacco control. Only a very small group really doesn’t want to stop. Most however do and can be reached and influenced by campaigns.

Time to stop
Stoptober is one of the many ways to help people quit smoking. It’s an initiative of the KWF Kankerbestrijding (the Dutch Cancer Society) and the Dutch Ministry of Health, amongst other organisations. The goal is to persuade smokers to cold-shoulder their cigarettes for at least this month – October – and after hopefully forever. They will receive help in doing this. There is a Stoptober-app, Stoptober-vlogs and Dutch celebrities who are giving the good example, like fashion designer Olcay Gulsen. More than 50.000 people are now officially joining Stoptober.

Also good for the environment
Off course not smoking anymore has its clear health benefits. But there is another good reason to quit, since the tobacco industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. According to the World Food Organisation of the United Nations, a tobacco plant exhausts agricultural land more than other plants, forests are harvested for production, and chemicals which are prohibited in Europe are being used in the production of tobacco.