What to look for in a stop smoking program

Stop smoking programs are designed to help smokers recognize and cope with problems that come up during quitting. They also provide support and encouragement in staying quit. Studies have shown that the best programs will include either one-on-one or group counseling. There is a strong link between how often and how long counseling lasts (its intensity) and the success rate. Overall, the more intense the program, the greater the chance of success.

For example, intensity may be increased by having more or longer sessions or by increasing the number of weeks over which the sessions are given. So when looking for programs, try and find one that has the following:

* Each session lasts at least 15 to 30 minutes
* There are at least 4 sessions
* The program lasts at least 2 weeks -- longer is usually better

Make sure the leader of the group has training in smoking cessation.

Some communities have a Nicotine Anonymous group that holds regular meetings. This group applies the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to the addiction of smoking. This may include admitting you are powerless over your addiction to nicotine and having a sponsor to talk with when you are tempted to smoke. These meetings are free, but most will take donations.

Often your local American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, or your local health department will sponsor quit smoking classes, too. Call us for more information.

There are also some programs to watch out for. Not all programs are ethical. Think twice about any programs that:

* Promise instant, easy success with no effort on your part
* Use shots (injections) or pills, especially "secret" ingredients
* Charge a very high fee -- check with the Better Business Bureau if you have doubts
* Are not willing to give you references from people who have used the program