As Allen Carr says, ‘It’s easy to stop smoking if you know how’. But is it really that simple?

As Allen Carr says, 'It's easy to stop smoking if you know how'. But is it really that simple?

Modified on: 24/05/2024


First published in UK in 1985, the well-known book by Englishman Allen Carr aims to help smokers quit smoking without resorting to drugs and other medical (and non-medical) devices.

But is quitting smoking really that simple?

Let’s find out more.

What is Alan Carr’s book about?

A highly effective method that guarantees a good chance of success, based on a simple and clear concept: instead of focusing on the disadvantages of smoking, it is better to focus on the advantages of not smoking. ‘It’s easy to quit smoking if you know how‘ has been a great publishing success, which has given a big hand to many smokers in quitting smoking.

Allen Carr’s book interrogates the smoker as to why he continues to smoke despite the obvious disadvantages, what keeps him tied to the habit and dismantles his (futile) motivations.

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Instead of listing the harms of smoking, the author reverses the perspective and helps one become aware of the dysfunctional mechanisms and lies that drive the smoker to light yet another cigarette.

As numerous reviews testify, the book by the London-based essayist has helped many people kick the habit. However, the title may be misleading: because quitting smoking is far from easy, and many smokers, without concrete help, struggle to kick the habit.

Read also: How to refill your disposable puff and why you should avoid doing so

Why it is so difficult to stop smoking

As we all know, the traditional cigarette contains a considerable amount of substances that are harmful to the body. A number of cardiovascular, oncological and respiratory system diseases are linked to cigarette smoking: of the more than 7,000 substances produced by cigarette combustion, as many as 250 are dangerous and about 70 are definitely carcinogenic.

One of these substances is liquid nicotine, an alkaloid that increases blood pressure and causes heavy physical dependence. But even the act of smoking itself causes a kind of psychological dependence: many smokers claim that the very act of bringing a cigarette to their mouth and inhaling is a way of relieving stress.

Nicotine addiction is very difficult to overcome and the withdrawal symptoms can be severe: anxiety, stomach cramps, stress, headache and that overwhelming desire to smoke that smokers, despite themselves, cannot suppress.

But behind the enormous difficulty in giving up the smoking habit, there could also be genetics, as some scientific studies show.

As recounted in an article in Quotidiano Sanità, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in Cell reports assessed the impact of nicotine withdrawal on Caenorhabditis Elegans, a worm just over a millimeter in size.

The research showed that in the mechanisms of nicotine addiction and withdrawal, certain genes play a major role in the development of substance receptor proteins: simplifying the concept, one could be predisposed to addiction due to one’s genetics.

Another study, produced by the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, analyzed the genetics of smokers of Caucasian origin, comparing research on the ANKK1 gene linked to the reward mechanism. The research found that among ‘white’ smokers, those with a variant of the gene, A2/A2, had a 22% greater chance of beating addiction than those with the A1/A1 gene.

In short, right from the title Allen Carr’s book promises to make it easy to quit smoking, but things are more complicated than a nice title and addiction can be very difficult to fight.

And in this respect, a multi-pronged approach to quitting smoking can be useful: in this respect, countries such as England prove that the electronic cigarette can also help to stop smoking.

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E-cigs against tobacco addiction: why electronic cigarettes can help

Giving up the smoking habit is complicated, especially for a heavy smoker. The electronic cigarette can be a useful tool to quit the habit gradually, switching from the traditional cigarette to a device that does not burn tobacco and causes much less harm.

The possibility of choosing e-liquid flavours and liquids with a low nicotine content can also help the smoker in the complicated withdrawal phase, which, as we have seen, can cause very unpleasant symptoms.

It is no coincidence that England has decided to consider the electronic cigarette as one of the most useful tools in taking the country away from tobacco addiction. Because the reduced content of harmful substances, including nicotine shots, can accompany the smoker.

Read also: Cigarettes that do no harm: do they really exist?

In conclusion

Allen Carr’s book is undoubtedly useful in helping smokers quit smoking, as the many enthusiastic reviews of the book show. The title, however, should not deceive: quitting smoking is very difficult, especially for heavy smokers. The electronic cigarette can help on the hard path of quitting the smoking habit, without causing the damage that a traditional cigarette does.

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See you soon!