Opinion: Get Proper Smoking Cessation Programming in Place Before Implementing Apartment Smoking Ban

I think we are all in agreement that smoking is bad for your health. No one is protesting this. I also see that all of the West Hollywood City Council is against smoking in common areas, parks etc. This is a good thing for everyone.

I wish that all could get to the point acknowledging that smoking is an addiction. Let’s all take a breath (no pun intended) and look at the facts and hopefully there can be some compassionate agreement that will help those addicted to nicotine to quit. Let’s not shame, punish or moralize. Here is some easily found info.

A study recently appearing in BMJ Open (the leading medical journal) suggests the number of times it take to quit smoking for good is much higher than experts once thought. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests 8 to 11 attempts. The American Cancer Society believes 8 to 10.

Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use, even in the face of negative health consequences. The majority of smokers would like to stop smoking, and each year about half try to quit permanently. Yet, only about 6% of smokers are able to quit in a given year.Most smokers will need to make multiple attempts before they are able to quit permanently.Medications including varenicline, and some antidepressants (e.g. bupropion), and nicotine-replacement therapy,can help in many cases according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The list of the hardest drugs to overcome as stated by American Addiction Centers are as follows (their popularity can change slightly in any given year, but these are repeatedly in the top six.)

  1. Heroin and prescription painkillers
  2. Cocaine
  3. Methamphetamine & Crystal Meth
  4. Benzodiazepines
  5. Nicotine
  6. Alcohol

Successful recovery from nicotine addiction will hopefully include CBT, in tandem with biological interventions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps patients identify triggers—the people, places, and things that spur behavior—and teaches them relapse-prevention skills (e.g., relaxation techniques) and effective coping strategies to avoid smoking in the face of stressful situations and triggers. A study that compared CBT and basic health education observed that both interventions reduced nicotine dependence. However, another study found that among smokers trying to quit with the nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) patch, patients who participated in six sessions of intensive group CBT had better quit rates than those who received six sessions of general health education.

Like many 12-step programs, peer-to-peer support, phone calls and texting to others trying to recover as well as groups online or in person of people trying to stay smoke free, are essential.

I am presenting this information, not to try to block an apartment/condo smoking ban, but to have a successful and compassionate ban.  Agreeing to put the ban into place AFTER we have programming in place to help constituents to quit, will give us an outcome far greater than simply putting a timeline into place. 

I have been helping addicts into recovery programs for two decades (more than 400) and I have seen what works and what doesn’t.

West Hollywood is the little city that could and did. Let’s apply some strategy into having a successful smoking ban rather than a ban in name only.

As I see it , every Council member ultimately wants this winning outcome. I think all of them would be proud to say that there is a ban, but a ban that actually assisted constituents rather than punished them.

I respectfully suggest that extending the timeline of the ban until a year after the programming is in place is the only way to go for success.

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