Quitting smoking is hard. In many cases a person will attempt to quit 30 or more times before finally kicking the habit. And even when someone decides they want to quit, the likelihood of succeeding during any given attempt is quite low.
These statistics are not encouraging.
Globally five times more men than women smoke. And they tend to smoke more on average per day than women. Smoking is also linked to a variety of poor health outcomes — from lung disease to heart disease to risk of stroke. In fact, the WHO estimates that half of all tobacco users will die from causes directly related to smoking.
So, with men being the majority of all tobacco users worldwide, what can be done to not only encourage them to quit, but to help them succeed in their attempts?
The good news is that studies show that it is actually easier for men to quit than women. On average they attempt to quit smoking four or more times more than women, which shows they have both the desire to quit and the determination to try again after several failed attempts.
But for men to be successful targeted resources need to be developed to help them in their journey towards quitting. It is clear that men and women react differently to smoking. So the methods and strategies for quitting must reflect their unique experiences
In a new study led by UBC researchers at the Men’s Health Research program they outline suggestions to help men quit smoking.
The study found that men are motivated best by peer-led interventions, and with support from people who have similar lived experiences. When the men in the study heard stories of success from other men who succeeded after several attempts, it helped them understand that quitting smoking is an ongoing battle, but that with perseverance they too can be successful.
Gayl Sarbit, who worked on the study, said that the most interesting revelation was that men didn’t want to hear about negative statistics.
“I was surprised to learn that men do not want to hear any more about why smoking is bad for them,” said Sarbit. “They want to focus on the positive benefits, and learn more about tools and strategies that can help them quit.”
Men also favoured friendly and supportive competition. These competitions can play on masculine ideals to encourage quitting, such as confidence, control, and comradery.
The most overwhelming result was that men wanted to learn from others.
“Men wanted to connect with other men for support,” Sarbit said. So we need to develop resources that allow men to learn from, and support one another.