Most smokers want to quit – but cannot on willpower alone

Smoking remains a significant health problem

  • 14.6% of Canadians (about 4.6 million) are current smokers10*
  • But – nearly 2/3 of smokers were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months10
  • Almost half (47.6%) of smokers and recent quitters had made at least one quit attempt in the past year
  • 1/3 had made multiple attempts

*Data source: Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS), 1999-2012; CTADS, 2013.

a graphical representation about Number of quit attempts made in the past 12 months by smokers and recent quitters 10*

*Includes current smokers and former smokers who had quit in the past 12 months
Data source: CTADS, 2013
Adapted from: Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends, 2015 Edition. PROPEL Centre for Population Health Impact.

Smokers generally go through a series of stages in their path to quitting39

The Stages of Change

Precontemplation: Not thinking about quitting
  • May be discouraged by previous quit attempts or think it’s impossible to quit
  • Process less information about smoking and have fewer negative reactions to smoking
  • Not likely to be receptive to health benefits of quitting

BUT – at some point, the vast majority think about quitting

Contemplation: Thinking about quitting, but not yet ready
  • Thinking about quitting in the next 6 months or less
  • Think and feel more about themselves in relation to their smoking

Most likely to respond to motivational interviewing

Preparation: Getting ready to quit
  • Made the decision to quit: the ‘pros’ of quitting outweigh the ‘cons’
  • Taking steps towards quitting e.g., reducing the number of cigarettes
  • Some set a ‘quit date’

Likely to be receptive to a well-defined smoking cessation plan/treatment

Action: Quitting
  • Actively trying to stop smoking
  • Turning to family, friends and others to stay motivated
  • Solidifying an action plan to deal with potential ‘slip-ups’

Need the most support to stay on track

Maintenance: Remaining a non-smoker
  • Have completed the recommended length of treatment
    (~10-12 weeks)
  • Have learned how to manage triggers
  • May slip, but try to learn how to not do so again

Need continued reinforcement to help prevent a relapse

People go through these stages at different rates, and may go back to previous ones at different times. But, does it even matter how ready your patient is to quit? Find out

Adapted from Prochaska J and DiClimente C, 1983.

Consistent intervention and motivational interviewing is key.

Most smokers will go through multiple quit attempts and interventions. The truth is that quit smoking programs often have fairly low success rates – but that doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile or should be discouraged. After all, 64% of Canadian smokers have already quit.10,40 It has been well established that physicians, nurses and pharmacists can have a significant effect on the smoking behaviour of their patients.41,42

a stethoscope on a table

Most smokers need help 

Yet only 43% of current smokers received advice to quit in the past year.2 Even less than 3 minutes of counselling can make a significant impact.4

2/3 of smokers try to quit 'cold turkey' - but only 6%
are successful36

3 out of 4 smokers trying
to quit 'cold turkey' relapse
within one week37

After 6 months, 97% of
smokers will have failed in
their attempts to stop
smoking unaided37

Most relapse occurs in first
8 days due to unresolved
withdrawal symptoms