Overcoming the Urge to Smoke: The Strategies of Long-Term Abstainers and Late Relapsers

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Successful modification of smoking behavior has been related to the use of coping strategies for overcoming the urge to smoke. The purpose of the present study is to describe the frequency of use and the perceived usefulness over time of such strategies. The relationship of strategy use to long-term abstinence is also reported. Both interview and questionnaire measures were used with a sample of 182 subjects who abstained for at least 3 months after attending community-based smoking cessation programs. Results revealed that the most frequently used strategies were deep breathing, cognitive strategies, ingestion, and physical activity. Although 12-month abstainers used significantly fewer strategies than subjects who relapsed at 3 to 12 months, abstainers were more likely to see strategies as useful and perceived less of a decline in usefulness over time than did relapsers. Implications for health education programs are discussed.

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