A smoking cessation program run by GPs in Almere appears to be twice as successful as the usual national approach to smoking. A study into the effect of the new program shows that after a year forty percent of the participants still do not smoke. Nationally, that is around 20 percent.
According to general practitioner Michael Brouwer of Zorggroep Almere, the success is partly due to the focus on mental addiction and personal, long-term guidance. “The cigarette is often habitually linked to a certain activity, such as drinking coffee, or to an emotion, such as sadness,” says Brouwer. “Our smoking cessation coaches make a plan together with the smoker to break this habitual behaviour.”
In the program, the participants receive intensive personal guidance. For example, a plan is made together, including a stop date. After this date, the participant will receive individual aftercare for a year and there will be (group) meetings. During these meetings, among other things, the prevention of a relapse is discussed. Participants also learn how to deal with social pressure. Specialist addiction care and medication can also be part of the program.
According to Brouwer, motivation is an important condition for participating in the programme. For example, the participants are expected to attend the meetings and to read a book about smoking cessation in preparation, or listen to it as an audio book. An extensive questionnaire must also be completed. The purpose of this preparation is for participants to become more aware of their reasons for smoking and the motives for quitting.
What do inveterate smokers think?
Smoking Almeerders who approach our reporter on the street do not seem completely convinced yet. “I know that programs like this exist, but that help is not for me,” says one man. “I once started myself, so now I think I should stop myself.” Another passerby agrees. “This program would probably be suitable for others, but not for me. If I’m going to stop, I’ll stop myself.” According to Brouwer, the chance of succeeding in getting rid of a smoking addiction on your own is about ten percent.
Participation in the cessation program requires a referral from your general practitioner or another healthcare provider. It will then be reimbursed from the basic insurance.