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Pains of giving up the cigarette

London, Dec. 9 (Reuters): Most smokers in Europe would find it easier to give up sex for a month than cigarettes and many view even bungee jumping or parachuting as less difficult than kicking the habit.

A survey of more than 2,000 smokers published today showed just how addictive nicotine is when 62 per cent of smokers in six European countries said they felt the New Year is a good time to quit, but only 3 per cent used it as a trigger to stop.

“In every single country the vast majority of smokers want to stop,” Alex Bobak, of the anti-smoking group Scape (Smoking Cessation in Primary Care), 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 per cent of British smokers, almost 70 per cent in the Netherlands, France and Germany and more than 55 per cent in the Belgium and Spain would forgo sex rather than live without cigarettes for a month.

Although 60 per cent of European smokers said they would try to quit if it affected their love life, 35 per cent 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 per cent who tried to quit began smoking again within a month. Bobak, the head of Scape, said the addiction to nicotine is so strong that even after a heart attack, 60 per cent 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 per cent of smokers throughout Europe said they thought of consulting their family doctor to seek help to stop smoking.

“Research tells us 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.

Last week, health ministers approved a new law to extend the European Union’s ban on tobacco advertising in television to the print media. The EU’s executive commission, which drew up the law, argued that banning tobacco advertising is vital to fight smoking in the 15-nation bloc, where over half a million people die prematurely every year from tobacco related diseases.

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