What does this tool help you learn?
This interactive tool measures your readiness to quit smoking. The tool uses the stages-of-change approach, which is based on research about how people typically make behavior changes. The approach suggests that to make positive change, most people go through distinct stages from not thinking about quitting to actually quitting. Based on your answers, this tool will identify the stage you are in and help you think about what to do next.
Reproduced with permission from "A 'Stages of Change' Approach to Helping Patients Change Behavior," March 1, 2000, American Family Physician. Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Family Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
What does your score mean?
Your score will appear as one of the following:
- Not ready. You are not considering quitting for a variety of reasons. You may think that the benefits of smoking outweigh its risks or that you cannot stop smoking.
- Thinking about it. You may have mixed feelings about quitting. In this stage you acknowledge that smoking is a problem, but you are not ready or not sure you want to quit. For example, you may want to quit but believe that you cannot quit because of past failures.
- Preparing. You are motivated to quit smoking and are making small steps toward that goal. In this stage, it is important that you gather information about how to quit so that you understand what you must do to make this major lifestyle change.
- In the process. This is the stage where you are actively taking steps to quit smoking. You will need willpower to prevent starting smoking again. Congratulate yourself for taking this step.
- Have quit. To keep your current nonsmoker status, you must continue to successfully avoid temptation. This means anticipating situations in which you might slip up and avoiding those situations. It may take years before the temptation to smoke completely leaves and this change is truly established.
- Have relapsed. If you start to smoke again, don't be discouraged. It doesn't mean you can't quit for good. For most people, it usually takes several tries at quitting before they finally quit. Think of quitting smoking as a process. Learn from this experience at trying, and you will be one step ahead.
Quitting smoking, like most major lifestyle changes, is a process. Understanding where you fall in this process—your current stage of change—will help you and your doctor find the right strategy. The best way to stop smoking is to get help and to follow a plan. You can increase your chances of quitting by using medicines, such bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix). Or you can use nicotine replacement therapy (gum, lozenges, patches, nasal sprays, or inhalers). Counseling (by phone, group, or one-on-one) can also help. And using both medicines and counseling works even better.
For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Other Works Consulted
- Zimmerman GL, et al. (2000). A "stages of change" approach to helping patients change behavior. American Family Physician, 61(5): 1409–1416.
Current as of: July 4, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry