Allen Carr is a British author (and ex-smoker) who wrote several self-help books. “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” is his most successful. Carr’s quit smoking book was published in 1985 but it’s still being read and discussed. Perhaps that fact alone says something about the book’s value.
If one looks at a website such as Product Review one ratings ranging from 1 out of 5 to 5 out of 5. The review headlines range from “Brilliant” to “Infantile on Amazon reviews show that the book has received 1,080 positive and 118 critical reviews.
Perhaps one has to look at a review of this book from two angles: the book as a book and—way more importantly—is it effective in helping people quit smoking?
The book as a quit smoking tool
As the reviews on websites indicate, Carr’s book is like all self-help tools: it works for some and not for others. What is significant is that it seems to be effective more often than not.
Quit Smoking Community describes the approach or methodology laid out in the book as offering “a unique view on smoking” and as challenging “the smoker to re-think the way they think about cigarettes”.
An important aspect of “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” is its focus on smoking as an addiction. Readers of the book are required to consider the differences between their physical need for cigarettes and their emotional dependency on them. It’s pointed out that physical withdrawal is relatively short-lived; it’s the mental element—the addiction—that is a lifelong problem.
However, in his book Carr doesn’t indulge the negative expectations about how tough it is. The aim of his writing is to get smokers to move from thinking that their addiction is something they can’t overcome, that quitting is way too hard, to looking at it as an issue they can deal with.
A second important aspect of “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” is that the author doesn’t use scare tactics. There are no images ofblackened lungs, patients with tracheotomy scars or other horrors. You won’t find statistics about smoking-related illnesses and deaths. Most smokers know the dangers and risks; detailing them is counter-productive.
Carr’s approach is to make a smoker change how they think about cigarettes and their control over their addiction or habit.
A most effective strategy is to get the smoker to realize that cigarettes and smoking are not sophisticated or stress-relieving. Cigarettes prevent withdrawal and don’t give pleasure; nicotine is a ‘downer’. Crucial to Carr’s approach is changing a smoker’s perception so that he or she sees cigarettes as the enemy.
The book as a book
The beginning of the book is a little heavily flavored with self-promotion. The whole book is really poorly written. Can that be forgiven in light of Carr’s success? Most think so. In the article Quitting smoking is easy when it’s easy Rick Paulas is real direct about Carr as an author: “Allen Carr was a terrible writer… [the book is] derivative, repetitive, dry, and, the greatest sin of all, terribly boring”.
If you are not concerned with style and only with substance this aspect of “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” won’t bother you at all.
The bottom line
As various reviewers have said, Carr’s method does not work for everybody. However, the important thing is that it does work for the majority of smokers who have read this book. Anybody who has helped several thousand people to quit smoking must have done something right!