Smokeout Quitters Turning to Internet

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Record numbers expected during Thursday's 26th annual Great American Smokeout

Although many smokers view the American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout as simply a one day break from puffing, thousands will turn to the internet and a growing array of free quitting tools to assist them in permanently breaking nicotine’s powerful grip upon their life.

Quit smoking forums and programs have flooded the internet. "It’s a lot to wade through," says John R. Polito, founder of "Arriving hopeless smokers are amazed at all they’ve been missing and at how little they actually knew about navigating nicotine withdrawal."

Although WhyQuit is a forum devoted exclusively to cold turkey quitting, visitors are provided with a directory of links to other free internet quit smoking support groups catering to other methods of cessation.

Established in 1999 as a motivational site, WhyQuit has evolved into a multifaceted education program in which new arrivals are guided though 72 hours of learning and nicotine cleansing before being granted access to a nicotine free support group called Freedom. Once inside, any nicotine relapse permanently revokes membership.

"It may sound harsh," says Polito, "but we’re battling decades of rubbish that taught smokers not to worry about cheating, slipping, and to not expect success during their first few attempts." "With smoking killing half of all nicotine addicts, each over 5,000 days early, they should be worried."

Those arriving at WhyQuit during the American Cancer Society’s 26th annual Great American Smokeout will be directed to Joel’s Library," a collection of about 90 short clinic articles written by Joel Spitzer of Chicago.

There, new arrivals learn the law of addiction, how to approach quitting and how to minimize many of the common symptoms that often accompany chemical withdrawal from nicotine.

Joel Spitzer began his career in smoking cessation as a volunteer speaker with the American Cancer Society in 1972. He later served as smoking programs coordinator at a Chicago hospital. Since 1972, Joel has taught over 325 six-session quit smoking clinics, presented over 570 seminars, and spoken at 30 health conferences.

"He’s an amazing man," states Polito. "Lots of folks pretend to be nicotine cessation experts but Joel is the real McCoy." "What’s even more amazing is that he pays from his own pocket to help keep WhyQuit going, so that he can be there to provide free counseling to all in need."

Joel's message appears to be spreading. During October, WhyQuit had over 42,000 visitors who downloaded 4.9 gigabytes of data while generating over 500,000 hits. Major translation efforts are underway in Greece and Japan to mirror the entire WhyQuit site, while two other major online quitting forums host complete copies of Joel’s Library.

Aside from the library, WhyQuit presents tragic stories of young smokers in their thirties and forties who battled lung cancer and lost. Graphic photos of them on their death beds provide compelling reason for visitors to reflect upon the damage that smoking is causing to their body.

According to Polito, the fact that tobacco kills one-quarter of all adult smokers during middle-age just isn’t being shared with smokers. "We hope that during this Smokeout the message gets out."


For Further Information Contact:

Joel Spitzer: 847.328.7229

Chicago, Illinois


John R. Polito: 843.871.1659

Charleston, South Carolina


Links to Free Online Quitting Forums


Smokeout Quitting Tips from WhyQuit

1) Nicotine's half-life in the human body is two hours. Within 72 hours of quitting the body is nicotine free and the symptoms of chemical withdrawal peak in intensity and then begin to gradually subside. Just one puff of new nicotine and a quitter will have to endure the most challenging 72 hours again. One rule guarantees complete success - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

2) Forget about the concept of quitting forever - an awfully big bite to chew - and instead focus on achieving victory just one hour, challenge and day at a time. If you insist upon measuring victory in terms of quitting forever then when will you be entitled to celebrate?

3) Each time, place, activity and emotion during which you conditioned your mind to expect to receive new nicotine may generate a short crave episode that will not last longer than three minutes (look at a clock). Most feeding cues will be reconditioned with a single encounter. The "average" quitter experiences a peak of six crave episodes on day three with number falling to just 1.4 per day by day ten. Stated another way, the average quitter experiences just eighteen minutes of substantial crave anxiety on the most challenging day of all.

4) Drink plenty of natural fruit juices the first three days to help avoid symptoms associated with wild blood sugar swings - headache, inability to concentrate, dizziness, time perception distortions and the ubiquitous sweet tooth. Cranberry juice is excellent. Nicotine fed you by indirectly pumping stored fats and sugars into your blood via adrenaline releases. Smokers could skip meals and not feel hungry because nicotine was feeding them. Normal people must eat. It isn't a matter of consuming more calories but of learning to spread your daily intake out more evenly over your entire day.

5) Studies have shown that nicotine accelerates the rate at which caffeine is metabolized by over 200%. This means that nicotine smokers need twice the caffeine as non-smokers in order to feel the same effects. If you are a heavy caffeine drinker and you fail to reduce your caffeine intake by roughly half, it's likely that you will find yourself climbing every wall in sight. Don't give up your caffeine but do understand that you may require less.

6) Quit for yourself not others. If you quit for others, what will happen the first time they disappoint you? We call it "junkie thinking" and it is a quit killer. Don't entrust your cessation motivation to anyone but you. It may be fun to have a quitting buddy along but don't lean upon them as a primary source of motivation. Also don't expect family or friends to appreciate what it's like for a drug addict during withdrawal and recovery unless they've ever been chemically dependent themselves. It just isn't fair.

7) Although you may need to reduce your caffeine intake or take great care in using alcohol during the first week or so, don't give up anything in your life when quitting except for nicotine. Also, don't pick-up any new crutches either, good or bad. Food can be a crutch but so can any abrupt or major lifestyle change, even exercise programs. A crutch is any new activity that you are relying and depending upon to help you quit. You don't need crutches.

8) In each crave episode is less than three minutes, delay is your friend. Get rid of all your cigarettes and build-in a bit of delay. Chemical withdrawal is not a time for mind games. You have nothing to prove.

9) Write down all of your reasons for quitting, keep them close at hand, and use them as a crave coping tool during challenging times. Also, take a few notes or get out the video camera during the first few days so that you can document what withdrawal was like. The mind forgets life’s negatives. Preserve them as both a yardstick to measure your healing and a tool to renew and invigorate your motivation to stay free.

10) During crave episodes you can: (a) briefly distract your mind (try reciting your ABCs while associating each letter with a food - A is for grandma’s hot apple pie), (b) engage in relaxation (a five minute shower, or clear your mind of all thoughts and chatter while focusing on your favorite color, object, person or place), or (c) reach out and embrace your crave. A crave cannot hurt you, cut you or make you bleed. Take a deep breath and reach out in your mind while wrapping your arms around it. Sense its power peak in intensity and then slowly begin to subside as victory is once again yours.

11) Your body’s healing is likely to trigger one of the most vivid dreams in your entire life. Don’t be afraid as it’s perfectly normal. You’ll awake convinced that you have actually smoked, when what your improved senses of smell and taste have sampled are the odors being given off during the breakdown of tars inside horizontal healing lungs.

12) Although metabolism changes can account for a pound or two of weight gain, within just ninety days of quitting you can expect an almost one-third increase in overall lung function. The ability to build cardiovascular endurance is a power tool for change. Quitting smoking does not cause major weight gain, eating does. Two quick points. Smoking was your old cue that a meal had ended and you may need to find a healthy new cue. Also, with nicotine feeding us, many smokers are not used to dealing with true hunger. Whether you eat with a shovel or a teaspoon it still takes roughly 25 minutes for your body to digest those first few bites so that the brain’s hunger switch can be turned off. Learn to eat slowly.

13) In dealing with symptoms it is pretty safe to blame quitting for everything you feel during the first three days, but after that you need to take much greater care and contact your doctor should you have any lingering concerns. Smoking delivered 4,000+ chemicals into your body. Some of those chemicals could have been hiding or masking a serious underlying condition or even interacting with medications that you were already taking. It isn’t unusual for medications to need adjusting.

14) Even though you are leaving an extremely abusive and destructive relationship, the endless cycle of using nicotine to briefly satisfy your dependency created a powerful bond. During this temporary journey of adjustment from active smoker to comfortable ex-smoker, the emotional sense of loss and the phases you go through can be similar to those experienced during the death a loved one - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Don’t be afraid to seek professional medical assistance should the need arise.

15) While quitting, the next few minutes will always be doable. One of the greatest challenges faced by the new quitter is in developing quitting patience after a lifetime of sensing new nicotine arrive in their brain within 10 seconds of a new puff. Give yourself a couple of minutes and the worst will pass. Someday soon you’ll look back upon your biggest quitting challenge as your greatest moment of glory. Just one day at a time, baby steps and never forget the golden rule - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

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John R. Polito