Cigarette smoking in an ashtray
The CEO of Phillip Morris recently claimed that cigarettes aren't really difficult to quit. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A tobacco company executive recently claimed that cigarettes are not actually that hard to quit. The CEO of Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco conglomerate in the world, claimed that cigarettes are not that hard to give up at a recent shareholder’s meeting. Nearly half a million people die from smoking related illnesses annually in America.

CEO tells nurse cigarettes are not that addictive

At a recent shareholders’ meeting for Phillip Morris International, Chief Executive Officer Louis C. Camilleri, along with other executives from cigarette and tobacco companies, had to spend most of their time dealing with questions and broadsides from health advocates and anti-tobacco activists, according to MSNBC. During the meeting, a nurse named Elisabeth Gunderson commented on death from tobacco statistics and how a patient of hers claimed that cigarettes were more addictive than any other drug. The patient of Gunderson’s had previously quit using cocaine and methamphetamine. Camilleri responded that while cigarettes are “addictive, it is not that hard to quit” and noted that more people have quit than are smoking. Gunderson is a nurse at the University of California San Francisco.

Data from users disagrees

The Phillip Morris company issued a corporate statement backing away from its CEO’s comments, saying that cigarettes are “addictive and harmful,” but many people would take that statement as a token appeasement. Camilleri, a smoker, has been quoted as saying he has quit smoking once, for a period of three months. The U.S. Public Health Service found that 45 percent of smokers try to quit annually, and usually 4 to 7 percent of them are successful. Most people have to attempt smoking cessation 8 to 10 times, according to WebMD, before they are successful. The National Institute of Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, states that 85 percent of smokers who try to quit are unsuccessful and resume smoking within one week, and only one in three people who try to quit, according to the Wall Street Journal, are able to kick the habit for good.

Quitters can prosper if quitting cigarettes

Nearly every physician or medical foundation will unequivocally assert that it is best to cease smoking as soon as possible. In recent years, nicotine replacement therapies have come about to help people rid themselves of the habit. The American Heart Association states that NRT works with a “comprehensive smoking cessation program,” and the National Cancer Institute states that using nicotine replacement therapy doubles the chances of successfully quitting smoking. Nicotine patches and nicotine gum such as Nicorette have been shown to work, as have medications such as Chantix and Zyban. Numerous pharmaceutical companies are also working on anti-addiction vaccines, including targeted nicotine addiction vaccine medications, though they won’t be on the market for some time.

Sources

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42989983/ns/business-retail/

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/quitting-tobacco-use-overview

National Institute for Drug Abuse: http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/addictive.html

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704436004576298980739463392.html

American Heart Association: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4615

National Cancer Institute (PDF – requires Adobe Reader): http://www.smokefree.gov/pubs/MythsaboutNRTFactSheet.pdf

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