7.0 Introduction

To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did; I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times.


—Mark Twain


Most Australian smokers regret having started smoking1 and have made at least one attempt to quit.2,3

Successful cessation may take several years, most former smokers having progressed through a number of attempts and relapses before attaining long term abstinence.4 While the majority of Australian ever-smokers who have quit report doing so without the use of services or pharmacological aids,2 clinical studies indicate that the most effective cessation interventions combine behavioural support with drug treatment.5–8

Relevant news and research

For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.(Last updated May 2024)


1. Fong G, Hammond D, Laux F, Zanna M, Cummings K, Borland R, et al. The near-universal experience of regret among smokers in four countries: findings from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Survey. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2004;6(suppl 3):S341–51. Available from: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a753998174~db=all~order=page

2. Brennan E, Durkin S, Wakefield M and Dunlop S. Victorian current and former smokers' quitting activity and the impact of cessation aids, services and anti-smoking campaigns. CBRC research paper series, no. 29. Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, 2007. Available from: http://www.cancervic.org.au/about-our-research/our-research-centres/centre_behavioural_research_cancer/research_projects_and_reports/cbrc_research_paper_series/vic_quitting_aids_campaigns_2007.html

3. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer. Current and former smokers' quitting activity and intentions: finding from the 1998–2010 Victorian Smoking and Health Surveys, unpublished data. Melbourne, Australia: CBRC. 2011.

4. US Department of Health and Human Services. The health benefits of smoking cessation. A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1990. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/pre_1994/index.htm

5. Coleman T. ABC of smoking cessation. Use of simple advice and behavioural support. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.) 2004;328(7436):397–9. Available from: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7436/397

6. Le Foll B and George T. Treatment of tobacco dependence: integrating recent progress into practice. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2007;177(11):1373–80. Available from: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/177/11/1373

7. US Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, 2009. Available from: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspstbac2.htm

8. US Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women: US Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine 2009;150(8):551–5. Available from: http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/150/8/551