New book to help smokers quit for good

28-robertDr. Robert West
University College London
28-flag United Kingdom
12 Feb 2014

Why have you written the book?

Honestly? Because I was approached by a literary agent who eventually managed to persuade me that smokers would be interested in a book that told them the truth about how best to stop smoking, based on the best available science, and written by someone whom they could trust as a genuine expert. I was skeptical because I did not see how such a book could compete with the very popular books which sell a particular method and make extravagant promises.

28-photo1I was persuaded when I remembered that in the media interviews I do on pretty regular basis, people do seem interested in the science as long as it is presented in a friendly, conversational style. So that is what I’ve tried to do in the book. I want the book to be like having a chat with me over a cup of coffee or tea … or perhaps a glass of wine.

Who is the book for?

It’s for smokers and anyone who is interested in smoking. It’s a cross between a popular science book and a self-help guide. I have been very chuffed (a northern word meaning – pleased!) by colleagues who, after reading it, have said something to the effect of “It made me want to start smoking so that I could use it to stop!”

What would be really exciting for me would be for all stop-smoking advisors to have a copy and for their clients also to have one – then it could provide a common point of reference for their interaction and ensure that the clients have information to hand whenever they need it between sessions.

Then, since I am primarily a researcher, I’d want to evaluate this to see whether it improved success rates. In fact that is exactly what I hope to do.

Why now, why not before now?

I had thought about doing something like this for a few years but, as I say, was not convinced it would have popular appeal. The other thing that made it possible now was that my son, Jamie West, who is a musician and writer, agreed to help me. I would not have done it without having his help and support.

What is the purpose of the accompanying website?

The idea is for the The Smoke Free Formula website is to provide a way of updating the content of the book with new evidence which is coming out all the time. It’s also for people using the book to register their quit attempts and what they are using in those attempts, and then track their progress. If this works, we’ll create a wonderful database of what is working best for whom that we can feed back daily to the people using the site. This depends on smokers getting involved and it remains to be seen how successful it will be but I’m putting my share of the royalties (over and above the advance) into trying to make this work so I’m keen to give it my best shot.

What are the plans for the book in multiple languages?

Orion Publishing has the rights to the English language version in UK, Australia, New Zealand and a few other countries. We will publish an adapted version later in the year in the US and Canada. We have other publishers lined up so far for Russia, Germany, Spain, most of Latin America, The Netherlands, Norway and Romania. I think all of these editions will be published in 2014. Until we get all this sorted out people will have to go to Amazon.co.uk.

How can advisors use the book?

As I mentioned earlier, I hope that it will be really useful for advisors, not only to give them a one-stop shop for the most up to date information on smoking, why people find it hard to stop and the evidence behind all the different things they advise their clients to do, but also so that they can encourage their clients to have a copy so that they are both literally on the same page!

Oh yes, and the book tells smokers what to expect from a good stop smoking advisor.

If I can say one last thing: all my publishers tell me that they are behind this book for the long term and that means it should go into many editions. This means that we can improve it as we go along. So if anyone has any comments or suggestions, please let me know. I’m sure there is much that can be improved.