When you first quit smoking you might feel somewhat alone in your goal or that you are one of only a few people attempting to rid yourself permanently of tobacco. You might know some people in your entourage who have already tried. They may have succeeded or not, but overall it can seem hard to imagine that there is a large population of successful ex-smokers. This feeling may be compounded by all the talk regarding how difficult it is to quit smoking, and availability of a vast array of quit smoking aids, tools, books, etc.
One issue to bear in mind is that there is a lack of visibility of ex-smokers, because they blend in seamlessly with everyone else who doesn’t smoke. They don’t go around being vocal about the fact that they quit smoking, especially after enough time has passed for them to no longer care about it. Ex-smokers are also notably absent on quit smoking forums, for the same reasons. They tend to stop posting once they have reached the 1st yearlong milestone and only come back to make one post for each successive year of having quit if they continue to post at all.
I’ve also known some people in the corporate world who prefer to hide the fact that they once smoked, especially in the upper echelons of management. I imagine the same is true of other environments outside of work. Smoking can be seen as a weakness better not discussed; even if it is a thing of the past.
So, where are all these successful ex-smokers? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US alone, the number of smokers has decreased significantly over the past several years. It went from 20.9% of the population in 2005 (61 million) to 17.8% of the population in 2013 (56 million). That’s 5 million people who have quit in 8 years. I looked at the statistics for several other large country populations, and the trend is similar. Smoking is on the decrease worldwide.
So the next time you wonder where all the ex-smokers have gone, it is probably that just like you, they went to join the 5 million club!