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Five Reasons People Keep Smoking

November 21, 2019
By Pivot

Worldwide, more than one billion people smoke cigarettes, 34 million of these people live here in the United States. Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable illness, death, and health care costs yet there has been little innovation in the space.

This is why the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on November 21 is so important. For more than 40 years, the Great American Smokeout has provided an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, and health care providers to encourage people to stop smoking or initiate a plan to stop.

At Pivot, we know smoking isn’t the same for everyone. And neither is quitting. We conducted a study of over 1,000 people who smoke so we could truly understand what holds people back from quitting. Without further ado, here is what we found – the five most common mental and physical barriers that make it challenging for tobacco users to kick the habit:

  1. Nicotine Addiction: An overwhelming 48% of respondents cited addiction to nicotine as the main barrier to stubbing out their final cigarette. This makes sense as nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in the brain that are temporarily pleasing.
  2. The Long Goodbye: You don’t need to quit smoking to imagine that tobacco withdrawal symptoms are the opposite of a good time. No one wants to voluntarily battle irritability and anxiety, so it makes sense that 42% of participants named withdrawal symptoms as a barrier to quitting success.
  3. Not Ready: No two quit journeys are alike, and there’s no silver bullet to finding motivations for quitting. So it’s no wonder that almost one-third of survey respondents are simply are not ready to finally say goodbye to smoking.
  4. Ineffective Aids: There are a lot of cessation aids on the market claiming to be effective for people who want to quit, yet many fail, sending folks back to the drawing board. Our study found that a third of participants would be motivated to quit smoking if they could find the right program.
  5. Weight Gain: 22% of respondents cited “more inches to the waistline” was a major concern if they put a stop to their smoking.

Despite these very real and understandable barriers, the majority of respondents report that they remain motivated to quit, mostly because they aspire to live longer and healthier lives. This is especially true for people as they age and see the direct effects of smoking on their health.

After health, the cost of cigarettes is a key secondary motivator. A person who smokes will spend close to $150,000 on cigarettes in their lifetime – that money could finance a house purchase, retirement or college education!

Aside from wanting to live a healthier life and save money, people also want to stop smoking for their loved ones – citing concerns about exposing family members to secondhand smoke; wanting to become pregnant; being pregnant; or recently having a baby.

Smoking isn’t the same for everyone. Neither is quitting. That’s why Pivot uses a revolutionary personal breath sensor, individual coaching, a customizable smartphone app and nicotine replacement therapy — to help individuals who smoke learn about their smoking behavior.

With understanding comes motivation and the ability to build a plan that is tailored for the individual.  In a recent clinical trial, we assessed Pivot’s impact on participant motivation to quit smoking and daily cigarette consumption. Six out of 7 participants (85.7%) who completed the study indicated that Pivot increased their motivation to quit, and nearly 1 in 3 (32.4%) achieved a successful quit.

Better yet, in our study 2 of 3 participants (66.5%) indicated they were not ready to quit smoking in the next 30 days. These participants achieved similar quit rates as those who were ready to quit in the next 30 days, indicating Pivot can be effective in a broad population of people who smoke. Pivot helps everyone, not just those ready to quit smoking.

If you’re like us, you delight in small wins. On this Great American Smokeout, we encourage people who smoke and those who support them to consider making one small move towards quitting. However we approach it, this is our journey, and the Pivot team believes in progress, not perfection.

Interested in exploring Pivot as a quit smoking program for your employee benefits package?

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