Trying to quit smoking just got a little easier

‘It’s easy to quit smoking – I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

This oft-quoted bit of wit, attributed to Mark Twain, gets right to the heart of the matter: Deciding to kick the habit is a breeze, but sticking with the decision is an entirely different story.

Most who actually manage to end up as former smokers do so only after several failed attempts.

These days, though, there are ways to ease the burden. Nicotine-replacement products such as patches or chewing gum can help. People have their first smoke for any number of foolish reasons, but those who keep with it, who just can’t seem to stop, continue because they are addicted to nicotine, a powerful drug. A cigarette is ultimately nothing more than a cleverly packaged nicotine-delivery device.

Until now, the Food and Drug Administration required smoking-cessation products to carry warnings that limited their use to 12 weeks – and forbade cheating during their use. If you didn’t manage to quit in the allotted time, you were back to smoking. And if you had a smoke along the way, you were back to smoking.

This made a daunting journey even more treacherous.

Now, the FDA has seen the light and will remove the time limits and the rules about cheating. With its announcement on Monday, the bureau recognized that anything that helps people to quit should be encouraged, not forbidden.

Unlike many FDA moves, this one wasn’t prompted by those who manufacture a product, but was instead spurred on by anti-smoking advocates.

Trying to quit but failing to do so is only human. Try again. Millions have managed to get it right, eventually.

Try gum, the patch. And keep on trying.

Try to quit smoking like your life depends on it.

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