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Giving up sex easier than smoking

Published: 2:02PM Saturday April 05, 2003

Most smokers in Europe would find it easier to give up sex for a month than cigarettes and many view even bungey jumping or parachuting as less difficult than kicking the habit.

A survey of more than 2,000 smokers showed just how addictive nicotine is when 62 percent of smokers in six European countries said they felt the New Year is a good time to quit, but only three percent used it as a trigger to stop.

"In every single country the vast majority of smokers want to stop," Dr Alex Bobak, of the anti-smoking group SCAPE, told a news conference to launch the international poll.

"The motivation is there but they don't go about it in the right way."

Nearly 80 percent of British smokers, almost 70 percent in the Netherlands, France and Germany and more than 55 percent in the Belgium and Spain would forgo sex rather than live without cigarettes for a month.

Although 60 percent of European smokers said they would try to quit if it affected their love life, 35 percent of smokers admitted they have never attempted to stop smoking.

Fear of health problems was the biggest motivator to quit, followed by concerns for their family and the cost of cigarettes but 62 percent who tried to quit began smoking again within a month.

Bobak, the head of SCAPE (Smoking Cessation in Primary carE), said the addiction to nicotine is so strong that even after a heart attack, 60 percent of smokers resume the habit.

"Smoking kills half of all life-time smokers," he said, adding that motivation, treatment and support are needed to help people stop.

Despite the availability of anti-smoking treatments and support groups, Bobak said only 22 percent of smokers throughout Europe said they thought of consulting their family doctor to seek help to stop smoking.

"Research tells us that when it comes to giving up smoking, gaining the help and support of a doctor together with an effective stop smoking medication is a winning combination," he added.