Announcer: It's been well-known for a long time that smoking is bad for your health, but it was only ten years ago that the Surgeon General identified cigarette smoking as an addiction. And it seems to be one of the hardest addictions to overcome.
Bill Saxby: My name is Bill Saxby. I'm 63 years old and I've smoked for 50 years, at least.
Announcer: Bill is an electrician. He has tried to quit smoking at least 20 times already. Now he smokes over a pack a day.
Bill Saxby: This is my famous tunafish-can ashtray. Because I've been going to quit smoking for a long time now and I just refuse to buy any more ashtrays.
There's no question about it -- it isn't a habit, it's addictive. The sad part is after you've smoked as long as I do you don't gain any pleasure from it anymore -- very little pleasure. I mean, at this point, I'm really just smoking to satisfy the craving and to kill the pain more so than to enjoy the cigarette.
I just get absolutely like I'm just totally collapsed -- all I want to do is sleep. And then right after I get through a period of that time and you go the other route, where you can't relax. You can't -- I mean, you just -- and I've actually got to the point where I would actually sit there and my whole body would just shake -- just literally shake.
Announcer: Within seven seconds of inhaling, nicotine enters the brain through the nervous system. Neural receptors, responding to the nicotine, stimulate parts of the brain which release the chemical dopamine. When a smoker quits, the changes in the dopamine system disrupt the entire nervous system. Withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult.
Dr. Michael Fiore of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin is helping Bill prepare to quit.
Dr. Michael Fiore: Yeah, they sound like the lungs of a 90-year-old. About how old were you when you started smoking?
Dr. Fiore: Yeah, and how old are you now, sir?
Dr. Fiore: Yeah.
Bill: I don't like the way I feel and my lungs are getting in bad condition. When I get up in the morning, I cough and I hack and spit up junk and goo.
Technician: Exhale -- all the way, as fast as you can.
Announcer: Testing Bill's pulmonary function shows the damage years of smoking can do. Clinical psychologist Doug Jorenby explains to Bill that his carbon monoxide level is over three times higher than a non-smoker's, which would register less than 10.
Dr. Doug Jorenby: 35 parts per million. Yeah, that's definitely up there. Within a few hours after you quit, that will start to come down.
Bill: Is that what makes you feel woozy?
Dr. Jorenby: Yeah, some people describe it as kind of feeling light-headed. And it's partly because for heavy smokers you're getting a lot more oxygen to your brain than it's used to.
Announcer: Knowing about the side effects is an important step before any smoker sets a quit date.
Dr. Jorenby: The symptoms include anger, irritability, frustration, people have problems concentrating, their sleep gets knocked out of whack. They often feel an increase in their appetite and within a matter of days, may actually start to gain weight.
Bill: It's like an alcoholic -- you know, when the first thing they do when they get up in the morning is have a drink, you know? I don't think it's any different with nicotine addicts. They get up in the morning, they have their first shot of nicotine to replace what they lost. I don't know how I'm going to handle that. I'm hoping this drug will help.
Announcer: Zyban is the drug Bill is pinning his hopes on. It's an anti-depressant which for some smokers can soothe nicotine cravings.
Dr. Fiore: The nice thing about it is it's not nicotine. People have found it's been very helpful. You need to know, though, it's not magic.
Dr. Fiore: We have no magic here. Deep breath in -- let it all out.
Announcer: The last time we saw Bill, Dr. Michael Fiore at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention in Madison, Wisconsin had prescribed the non-nicotine, anti-depressant Zyban. Two months later, Bill was unhappy with the results.
Dr. Fiore: Well, first, I don't think there's any perfect program or any magic bullet. People who smoke are first and foremost individuals and one thing we've learned is that there's not a simple recipe that's going to be perfect for every patient who wants to quit.
Bill: So I kind of backed off for a while, then I went and bought the patch.
Announcer: So far, the patch seems to be helping. After a week, Bill is smoking only three cigarettes, as compared to his usual pack a day.
Bill: It's working and I have the confidence now that I can do it, because that's 2/3 of the battle.