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Encouragement and support are crucial for smokers trying to kick the habit, a recent survey in Shanghai has found.
The poll, conducted by the Cancer Institute of Tongji University's Medical School, on 500 of the city's smokers aged 20 to 60 who had smoked for at least three years, showed that 63 percent of them went back to their old ways after a period of giving up.
Only 35 percent of the respondents said they managed to kick the habit completely, while the remaining 2 percent said they were smoking less.
Of those who went back to smoking, half said the main reason was because they could not resist smoking in the company of friends who were puffing away.
Researchers said smokers find it hard to give up smoking without encouragement from families and friends, or professional help.
"Failure to quit smoking by relying on willpower alone usually means the smoker has a physical addiction," said Zhou Caichun, professor of the cancer institute.
"Addicted smokers are always under the illusion that cigarettes make them feel good," he said.
He explained nicotine is a very strong stimulant that activates the brain's reward mechanisms, releasing "feel-good" chemicals. So smokers who do not light up feel lousy.
Zhou added that smokers often associate smoking a cigarette with a pleasant experience or use it as a tool to communicate with others.
Sun Xudong, 37, who works for a consulting company in Shanghai, has smoked for eight years. He said he smokes at least four packs a day to cope with the stress of work.
"It's only natural to light up a cigarette when talking with my clients. Besides, I see smoking as a way to promote communication. It would be embarrassing to refuse the offer of a cigarette," Sun said.
"All the people around me at work are smokers. It's very difficult to stop smoking in such an environment," he said.
Zhou added quitting smoking is a long-term process - it might take 20 years of not lighting up before a smoker can truly say he has kicked the habit.
Another smoker, Li Zhaocheng, said he had made several attempts to quit but always started again.
"Giving up smoking takes more than the effort of one person. It involves many others. When a person is trying to quit, they need help and support from their families and friends," he said.
1. The poll conducted by the Cancer Institute of Tonji University found what percent reverted back to smoking after a period of giving up?
2. What was the reason why most of them went back to smoking?
3. What does nicotine do to the body?
2.They couldn’t resist smoking if family and friends were doing it.
3.It activates the brain’s feel reward mechanism, releasing “feel-good” chemicals.