The EasyWay to Stop Smoking Turns 30

By William Georgiades 07/15/13

Allen Carr's iconic book—and the worldwide movement it created—have helped millions to quit.

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Today is the 30th anniversary of Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking. Since 1983, the bestselling book, which began as one man's common sense method to stop smoking for good, has grown in to an organization with more than 150 centers in over 45 countries. The book was founded upon the technique used in Carr's smoking cessation seminars—four-hour marathon lectures, where clients are encouraged to smoke as much as they wanted while hearing all about the nature of their addiction. At the end of the session, the clients pledge their decision to quit, throwing their cigarette packs and lighters in a growing pile of refuse. The now-iconic book, which encourages readers to continue to smoke until the last page, has spawned 26 other titles which apply Carr's method to other behaviors such as drinking, worrying and debting. EasyWay has sold over 14 million copies of their books and claims a 90% success rate based on their own three-month money back guarantee.

Scores of celebrities have praised Carr's method and used it to quit, including Lou Reed, Ellen DeGeneres, Anthony Hopkins, Chaz Bono, Richard Branson, Harvey Weinstein, Sean Bean, Bill Wyman, and Ashton Kutchner, who touted the program on the Tonight Show. Each center has a wall devoted to signed pictures of people thanking Carr, who died at the age of 74 from lung cancer seven years ago. Though he had been a longtime chain smoker, he believed the passive smoke inhalation he was subjected to at his many seminars may have contributed to his lung cancer. But he called it a "price worth paying" before he died, given how many smokers he had saved.

This anniversary is to be marked by the ascension of John Dicey as the new MD and CEO of the organization. Dicey, who has been running sessions with smokers since 1998, tells The Fix that he pledges to continue Carr’s program—not just to cure smokers of their addiction, but “to cure the world of smoking.” One aspect of the program has changed in recent years: due to the smoking bans in the USA and UK, clients now take smoke breaks, rather than smoking through the entire session. But "the success rate has stayed the same," Dicey tells us. He says he quit smoking through the method in 1997, and joined the team of therapists a year later. "All of our therapists are former clients," he tells us. "The growth of the clinic network has been entirely organic."

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William Georgiades is a former editor at EsquireBlack Book, the New York Post and the Grapevine and has written for several publications including New York MagazineVanity Fair, the London Times and GQ. He has been the features editor at The Fix since 2013. You can find him on Linkedin.

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