Making the Decision to Quit

Just how and why do people stop smoking?  Researchers have been looking into this for years. One theory that has been used is the “Stages of Change Model.” The model is based on research that shows that behavior changes related to smoking occur over a continuum. In other words, not all people are at the same point in the “getting ready to quit” scenario. Here’s an overview of the stages:

  • Pre-contemplator. This is the smoker who is not even thinking about quitting right now.
  • Contemplator. This is the smoker who is actively thinking about quitting but is not quite ready to make a serious attempt yet. This person may say, “Yes, I’m ready to quit, but the stress of finals is too much, or I don’t want to gain weight, or I’m not sure if I can do it.”
  • Preparation. Smokers in the preparation stage seriously intend to quit in the next month and often have tried to quit in the past 12 months. They usually have developed a plan to quit.
  • Action. In this stage, the smoker has taken action to quit and is in the first six months of being smoke-free.
  • Maintenance. This is the period of six months to five years after quitting when the new non-smoker is actively engaged in taking steps to avoid smoking again. This usually includes incorporating other healthy behaviors into one’s life.


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