There are all kinds of smoking cessation groups out there, from free sessions in church basements to tailored on-the-job programs in corporate conference rooms, in styles ranging from wide-open discussions to somber-toned 12-step programs. Some, like the Kaiser Permanente program, have a revolving clientele, with beginners trading anecdotes with veterans.
You can find classes through your local hospital, public health department, or church or call your doctor for a referral to classes. The American Lung Association has a free online smoking cessation program that you can join through their website, http://www.lungusa.org.
When you do find a class, you'd do well to investigate it before signing up, according to 7 Steps to a Smoke-Free Life, a book published by the American Lung Association to help people stop smoking. Here are some good questions to ask:
- Is the program convenient? Ask about where it's conducted, how long sessions last, and what time of the day they're held. If it's inconvenient for you, you might make excuses not to go.
- Is the staff well-trained and professional? Ask who'll be leading the group. If the program involves hypnosis, the practitioner should have a license or be certified in psychiatry, psychology, or social work.
- Does the program provide what you need? Find out whether the group emphasizes lectures or group discussions.
- What is the success rate? A good program follows up on participants for at least three months. Don't be surprised if the success rate sounds low. In many programs, only one out of four or five people stays off cigarettes afterward for at least a year.
Finally, how much will it cost? Price isn't necessarily the best gauge of how good a program is. Many of the most successful programs are free to participants. You might ask your employer or health plan whether there is a subsidized program that will help you stop smoking. If so, you may be able to take advantage of it at a reduced price.
Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: Clinical Practice Guideline, published by the U.S. Public Health Service in June 2000.
Edwin B. Fisher Jr., PhD. American Lung Association's 7 Steps to a Smoke-Free Life. John Wiley and Sons Inc.
Jacquelyn Rogers. You Can Stop Smoking. Pocket Books.