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Division of Periodontology

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DDS Curriculum

Advanced Education

Tobacco Cessation




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Home > Tobacco Use Cessation Program > Didactic Components > Stages of Quitting

Stages of Quitting

Tobacco users go through stages of quitting:

Pre contemplation (60% of users are in this stage)
These tobacco users deny having a problem and have no intention of quitting. These are the "get out of my face" tobacco users. Raising their awareness of the oral effects of tobacco in a very low-key, sensitive approach may help. It is important to let them know that your office would be happy to help them if they ever do become interested in quitting.
Contemplation (32% of users are in this stage)
Contemplators know they have a problem. They would like to quit someday but they have no commitment to take action now. They may have indefinite plans to quit within 6 months or so. People can remain stuck in this stage for years.
Preparation for Action (8% of users are in this stage)
Tobacco users in this stage are ready to quit within the next month but they have not necessarily resolved their ambivalence. They have reasons to quit and may have tried in the past.

Action (Normally takes 3 to 6 months to complete)

Maintenance (May last for 6 months to a lifetime)

Possible Relapse (and through the cycle again; the majority of relapsers do not go all the way back to pre contemplation)

Our advice and support in the dental office can encourage tobacco users to go through the stages of change until they are successful.

Even if they are unable to quit, they are further on their way -- for it takes many people a number of attempts, sometimes over many years, before they are successful.

You must have patience, a sensitive manner, and a chronic mindset when trying to help tobacco using patients.

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