Why bother - I've smoked so long it wouldn't help my health.

Although some of the damage done by smoked tobacco is permanent, much is reversible. As early as the second day of abstinence, risk due to heart attack decreases. Within days, risk of stroke and infections begins to decrease. Over months after stopping the linings of the mouth, throat, and bronchial tubes repair themselves, the cilia or little hairs in the bronchial tree start to work and the lungs begin to clear themselves. Emotional improvement begins to happen in weeks. Ten years after quitting, even heavy smokers of 20 years have cut their risks of dying from complications of smoking more than in half.

I've tried several times before and proved I can't quit.

It takes most smokers several (4 to 7) attempts before they are successful. With each attempt you learn a little more about what works and what doesn't. The trick is to incorporate this new learning into your next attempt at quitting and make this time successful. It is sometimes helpful to go over your relapse with a health professional to determine what triggered the relapse, what you might have neglected, how you might better prepare for the next time: it's called "turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones."

Quitting is just a matter of willpower. Those who can't quit just lack the will power.

The reason most people relapse to smoking is complex. Usually they don't realize at first the power nicotine addiction has over them. So they neglect to make the needed preparations in order to withstand both the craving and the compulsion to smoke. Craving is a powerful conscious drive, often triggered by environmental cues. There are effective techniques to deal with cravings until their intensity fades. Compulsion is an unconscious drive. Until a person realizes the profound unconscious drive of the drug to which they are addicted, they are less likely to remain adequately vigilant to defend against that first puff, or drink, or pill. Often we hear the relapsed smoker say, "I don't even know why I took that first puff, somebody offered me a cigarette and I just took it. I just wasn't thinking." Adequate preparation for quitting and a long-term relapse-prevention program are very helpful for successful recovery from nicotine addiction.

You just have to make up your mind and do it. Cold turkey is best.

The research shows the majority of smokers do quit on their own. However, we see the highest success rates by combining some education and behavioural changes with counselling support, as well as using medication, while the brain readjusts to life without nicotine.

Ray Baker MD, FCFP, FASAM, in association with medbroadcast.com