I quit for me

Baseline survey: I quit for me

Before starting the I quit for me program, please answer these questions.

Your responses will be treated in confidence, shared in aggregate format and only used for evaluation purposes. No information will be attributed to you or any individual respondent. Please visit the Government of Canada’s Privacy Act for more information.

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Organization: Health Canada

Published: 2024-01-05

Pub.: 230088

Cat.: H149-21/1-2023E-PDF

ISBN: 978-0-660-48943-8

This guide is for youth who want to quit using tobacco, cigarettes, or vapes.


Special thanks to all the Canadian teens, organizations, and scientists who helped develop the I quit for me program, formerly known as the Quit 4 Life program.

For info about tobacco- and vape-use and quitting, please visit the Government of Canada website: Canada.ca/tobacco.

Health Canada is the federal department responsible for helping the people of Canada maintain and improve their health. Health Canada is committed to improving the lives of all of Canada's people and to making this country's population among the healthiest in the world as measured by longevity, lifestyle and effective use of the public health care system.

Également disponible en français sous le titre :
J'arrête pour moi

To obtain additional information, please contact:

Health Canada
Address Locator 0900C2
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
Tel.: 613-957-2991
Toll free: 1-866-225-0709
Fax: 613-941-5366
TTY: 1-800-465-7735
E-mail: publications-publications@hc-sc.gc.ca

© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2024

This publication may be reproduced for personal or internal use only without permission provided the source is fully acknowledged.

On this page

Wouldn't it be great if someone helped you with how to quit smoking or vaping, instead of just telling you why you should quit?

This guide is for youth who want to quit using tobacco, cigarettes, or vapes.

  • This guide does not preach at you to quit.
  • It does focus on stuff that matters to youth.
  • This guide gives advice for quitting.
  • Advice that can work for you if that's what you want.

Any of this sound good to you?

You can check more than one!

  • Every now and then, I have a drag of a friend's cigarette, or I share a vape with a friend. But that's it.
  • The only time I smoke cigarettes is when I'm with friends who smoke.
  • The only time I vape is when I'm with friends who vape.
  • I smoke cigarettes every day or almost every day.
  • I vape every day or almost every day.
  • I just quit using cigarettes or vapes. Now, I need to stay off them completely.

If you checked any of these, keep reading!

What is addiction

The nicotine you get from smoking cigarettes or vaping (with nicotine) is addictive. Addiction is like a compulsion. You want to keep using the substance even if you know it's bad for you. It's like you are losing control.

Using tobacco products, like cigarettes or cigars, and vaping products with nicotine can also cause physical dependence, which means if you stop taking nicotine, you get withdrawal symptoms (not good feelings) and can develop a tolerance to nicotine, meaning you need to take more nicotine just to keep feeling OK.

At this point in your life, your brain is more vulnerable to nicotine. You can also experience early signs of nicotine's effects after only a few hits or puffs.

Once you're hooked, there's a pretty good chance you'll smoke or vape more than you thought you would. You might even be unable to stop when you want to.

A number of serious health problems can result from smoking leading to significant suffering and death. For every 2 people who smoke, 1 dies from smoking related causes. That sucks.

While quitting can be difficult – it is possible!

Find out if you may be addicted


If you vape (even a bit), answer these questions:

Part A Scoring
0 1 2 3 4
In one day, what's your usual number of vaping sessions?
(session = 5+ hits in a row)
0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20+
How soon after you wake up do you vape? after 2 hrs within 2 hrs within 1 hr within 30 min within 5 min
How many nights per week do you wake up because you need to vape? 0 1 2-3 4+  n/a

Part A score:

Part B Scoring
2 1 0
Do you vape because it's too hard to quit?  n/a yes no
Do you ever have strong cravings to vape?  n/a yes no
Over the past week, how strong have the urges to vape been? intense medium weak
If you haven't vaped for a while, do you get irritable?  n/a yes no
If you haven't vaped for a while, do you get restless?  n/a yes no
Is it hard to keep from vaping in places where you're not supposed to?  n/a yes no

Part B score:


Part A + Part B = score

Total score

0-3 – becoming dependent and/or addicted

4-8 – low level dependence and/or addiction

9-12 – moderate dependence and/or addiction

13+ – highly dependent and/or addicted

Even if your score is only 1, you've already started down the path to addiction. This means that your ability to ditch the vape is becoming smaller. No matter your number, quitting is possible.

It doesn't matter what vape device you're using, or what flavour you vape. If you're vaping nicotine, you're risking addiction and/or dependence.


If you smoke cigarettes (even just a puff, every now and then), answer these questions.

4 3 2 1
In a day, how many cigarettes do you smoke? more than 25 16 - 25 1 - 15 less than 1
Do you inhale? always often seldom never
How soon after you wake up do you smoke your first cigarette? within 30 min before noon before 5PM after 5PM
Which cigarette would you hate to give up? very first cigarette of the day morning cigarette afternoon cigarette evening cigarette
Do you smoke even if you're so sick you stay in bed most of the day? always often seldom never
Is it hard for you to resist smoking in places where smoking is banned? very hard sort of hard a little bit hard not hard at all

Add up your scores for the questions above


Do you smoke more in the first 2 hours of the day than the whole rest of the day?

If you answered yes, double your score!


  • 6-18 – becoming dependent and/or addicted
  • 19-30 – low level dependence and/or addiction
  • 31-42 – moderate dependence and/or addiction
  • 43-48 – highly dependent and/or addicted

Even if your score is only 6, you've already started down the path to addiction. This means that your ability to ditch cigarettes is becoming smaller. No matter your number, quitting is possible.

True whether you smoke legal, contraband or discount cigs. They all contain nicotine.

The science of nicotine

Scientific research has revealed 3 important things about the human brain and nicotine addiction:

  1. During the teen years, the human brain massively develops.
  2. Developing brains are highly vulnerable to nicotine addiction.
  3. Nicotine interferes with healthy brain development.

The human brain is still developing during your teens and early 20s. This means smoking or vaping nicotine during this time can interfere with healthy teen brain development, which isn't good.

Exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause long-term cognitive deficits. That means you could have problems listening, paying attention, learning, remembering, thinking logically, and managing your emotions. You could also be at greater risk of anxiety, mood disorders, and other substance misuse.

It's not exactly clear whether nicotine causes these types of cognitive deficits. And for some people, it may make them more likely to use other substances. Either way, using nicotine while your brain is developing can hurt brain health.

Do your brain (and your future) a favour; quit smoking, quit vaping.

Breathing vs smoking vs vaping

When it comes to human lungs, there is no doubt that smoking is very harmful. While vaping is less harmful than smoking, it still has risks and can be harmful, particularly for young people.

Vaping cannabis or THC is something completely different! Don't confuse that with nicotine.

There are a number of chemical compounds in e-liquids and even more in the aerosol produced by vaping. All e-liquids contain propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin, and flavoured e-liquids add in chemicals called "fragrant aldehydes". Some of the flavoring chemicals are considered safe when eating, but we don't yet know whether these chemicals are safe to breathe in. At high temperatures, PG and glycerol break apart to form new chemicals called carbonyl compounds, also known as aldehydes (e.g. formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein, etc.). Using vaping products with higher power and temperature settings can produce greater numbers and amounts of potentially toxic chemicals. Some of the chemicals and contaminants found in vaping aerosol are associated with negative health effects. The most common health effects reported by people who use vaping products are throat and mouth irritation, headache, cough, and nausea. The long-term effects are unknown.

Bottom line: Vapes can affect your health, causing shortness of breath and more coughs or colds. People who play sports notice that smoking and vaping reduces their lung function: they get out of breath easily. Have you noticed this yet?

Healthy pink lungs rock! Vaping and smoking… not so much.

Is quitting in your future?

You probably see yourself quitting smoking or vaping… eventually… when you want to.

In that case, why not quit right now?

For a few days. For good.

Prove to yourself and others that you're in control.

It's your life; take charge.

Need a reason to quit smoking or vaping? Canada.ca/tobacco or Canada.ca/vaping-info are worth a look.

Reasons to quit smoking

  • I don't like staring at the clock, waiting until I can go outside for a smoke. Being addicted to nicotine makes me feel like I've lost control.
  • Finding places to smoke and hiding it is annoying.
  • I think I'm getting addicted. Makes me think I should quit now.
  • I hate the way others look at me when I light up. I pretend I don't care, but I do.
  • My boyfriend/girlfriend isn't into smoking. They're always telling me to quit. Maybe I should just do that.
  • I don't want to worry about the health effects of smoking.
  • I don't want to worry about bad breath or smelly clothes/hair or wrinkles or stuff like that.
  • I keep getting colds—probably from smoking so much.
  • I can't really afford to smoke. I'd rather buy other stuff.
  • I didn't know nicotine could interfere with how my brain develops.
  • If I didn't smoke, I'd be better at stuff like sports, singing, dance, etc.
  • I've got my own personal reasons for quitting smoking.

If any of these reasons make you think about quitting smoking, keep reading. If you're not ready to think about quitting, that's OK. Use this guide when you think you might want to stop smoking.

Reasons to quit vaping

  • I hear scary stuff about vaping. I worry it could happen to me.
  • I vape more because I can do it anywhere, including indoors. Being addicted to nicotine makes me feel like I've lost control.
  • I think I'm getting addicted. Makes me think I should quit now.
  • I'm addicted to nicotine. I want to overcome my addiction before it becomes more of a problem.
  • I hate the way others look at me when I vape. I pretend I don't care, but I do.
  • My boyfriend or girlfriend isn't into vaping. They're always telling me to quit. Maybe I should just do that.
  • I don't want to worry about the health risks of vaping.
  • I can't really afford to vape. I'd rather buy other stuff.
  • I didn't know nicotine could interfere with how my brain develops.
  • If I didn't vape, I'd be better at stuff like sports, singing, dance, etc.
  • I cough a lot when I vape. I worry about the harm it could do to my lungs.
  • I've got my own personal reasons for quitting vaping.

If any of these reasons make you think about quitting vaping, keep reading. If you're not ready to think about quitting, that's OK. Use this guide when you think you might want to stop vaping.

How will you quit smoking or vaping?

smoking decision tree

Text description

A decision tree to draw teens into the process of thinking about themselves, their use of tobacco or vapes, and how they will quit smoking or vaping.

The decision tree starts with a question about whether the teen have tried quitting before. The yes/no questions then lead to a series of sub-questions that lead to one of the three plans for quitting smoking or vaping in this guide. The first plan is "Quit with a friend's help", the second one is "Cut back first: then quit" and the third one is "Target a quit date and go for it!"

Plan #1 – Quit with a friend's help

What you do What your friend does
You tell them you want to quit, and ask for their encouragement. Your friend stays positive about you quitting; they never lecture you or put you down.
You text your friend if you're having a craving. Your friend distracts you until the craving is gone!
You tell them if you smoke, or vape… even a puff/hit. Your friend helps you figure out why you caved so it doesn't happen again.
You ask your friend to keep you motivated to quit. Your friend is there for you.
You read this whole guide for more stuff about quitting. Your friend reads this guide so they know what you're going through.
You proudly talk about how many hours you've been off cigarettes or vapes. You deserve it. Your friend congratulates you, acknowledges your progress and says how impressed they are.

3 simple rules for Plan #1

  • You keep trying to quit, even if you have a slip
  • Your friend never preaches at you to quit
  • Together, you do something fun every day

Now, go to Plan #3.

Plan #2 - Cut back first; then quit


There are 3 weeks in this plan. Here's what you do each week.

Week #1

In week #1, smoke as usual, but keep track of how much you're smoking each day. By the end of week #1, you should have something that looks like this:

Day Number of cigarettes I smoked
Monday 5
Tuesday 4
Wednesday 5
Thursday 8
Friday 6
Saturday 12
Sunday 5

Use the I quit for me tracking card to write them down.

Week #2

In week #2, smoke fewer cigarettes per day than you smoked in week #1. For example, if you smoked 5 cigarettes last Monday, you can smoke 4 this Monday.

Week #3

Every day this week, smoke even fewer cigarettes per day than you smoked in week #2!


There are 3 weeks in this plan. Here's what you do each week.

Week #1

In week #1, vape as usual, but keep track of it like this:

Day Number of vaping sessions
(5 + hits in a row)
Monday 2
Tuesday 0
Wednesday 1
Thursday 1
Friday 3
Saturday 3
Sunday 0

Each day, count how often you vape. Count "sessions" or "hits" – whatever works for you.

Session = 5 + hits in a row.

Use the I quit for me tracking card to write them down.

Week #2

In week #2, have fewer vaping sessions or hits per day than you had in week #1. For example, if you had 2 sessions or hits last Monday, you can have 1 this Monday.

Week #3

Every day this week, have even fewer vaping sessions or hits per day than you had in week #2!

Bonus stuff to do

Give yourself a reward every day that you consume less nicotine – that's fewer cigarettes or less vaping. If you end up smoking or vaping too much on a certain day: Don't Freak Out! Just move on to the next day, and do what you're supposed to do: Keep Calm and Cut back.

When you finish week #3, decide if you want to keep cutting back, or if you're ready to completely quit.

If you don't want to quit, that's okay. Maybe you'll feel like quitting in the future. That works too.

If you want to quit‒or quit again‒go for it. Try Plan #1… or Plan #3, whatever you feel like. Either plan will help make quitting easier.

Go to Plan #1 or Plan #3

Plan #3 - Target a quit date and go for it!

Pick the day that you want to quit…

  • it should be a day when things aren't too stressful
  • picking your birthday or other special day works great
  • tomorrow is a good day too

Finish reading this guide before the day!

Get ready to quit

Decide how you want to quit.

 Read the rest of this guide.

List your reasons for quitting (see Reasons to quit smoking and Reasons to quit vaping).

 Type your list into your phone, write it on a sticky note or on the back of the tracking card, post it to social media… whatever… read it over and over.

Figure out what people / places / things will make you want to smoke or vape after you quit.

 Think of ways to work around them without a smoke or vape.

Be ready to deal

 So you won't give into nicotine cravings & stuff that makes you want to smoke or vape. (Great ideas later in the guide).

Prep your quit gear

 What is quit gear? It's stuff to put in your mouth instead of a cigarette or vape, and things to do instead of fixating on urges and cravings.

Quit gear checklist

  • water bottle
  • gum, a few hard candies, black licorice
  • straws or toothpicks to chew on
  • crunchy food – pretzels, popcorn, carrots
  • personal list of reasons to quit
  • phone (for instant distraction)
  • "My Quit" playlist
  • games


Choose your own way to quit, then do it (Great suggestions in section Choose your own way to quit)

Stay quit

Don't give in… not even a puff/hit. Give yourself a reward for every day you stay off nicotine.

If you slip up and have a puff/hit, pick a new day to start again. Quitting can take a few tries before it sticks.

Read the rest of this guide

Choose your own way to quit

The "Cold Turkey" plan

Cold turkey is a good way to quit, as long as you do it right. Get ready to quit cold turkey by reading this guide. Make sure you have a friend who'll get you through the rough stuff. Psyche yourself up. Go for it!

Use your phone

Go to Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868, or call 1 866 366 3667 to talk to a personal quit coach or visit Canada.ca/quitsmoking. Use the excellent quit info there. It doesn't cost anything, and it's always accessible to you.

See your doctor or nurse

You don't need to be sick to see your doctor. Because your doctor really can give you good information about quitting smoking or vaping.

If you don't want to talk to a doctor, talk to a nurse, pharmacist, dentist, or other health professional instead. You get the idea. They all have ways to help you succeed.

Spend $$$ wisely

Skip the acupuncture, laser, and hypnosis. They're too expensive, and there's limited scientific evidence to suggest these approaches to quit smoking, though some people report success.

Chew gum, slap on a patch, suck a lozenge

Nicotine replacement therapy: Good for adults, but not usually recommended for anyone under 18 years of age unless you've smoked or vaped heavily for several years and it’s recommended by your doctor.


Your community can support you while you quit. Reach out in person or online. Here are a few youth organizations offering support, but there might be others:


Elders can teach traditional methods of quitting that respect the links between physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Connecting with your cultural beliefs might help you quit.

Quit… today

Will it be hard to quit smoking or vaping? Maybe. Maybe not.

But hard doesn't mean impossible.

It's your choice whether to try or not. You're in control. You get to decide.

So if you choose to quit…

Do whatever it takes to stay clear of smoking or vaping. Keep busy, physically and mentally. Use all your supports.

But first, read the rest of this guide.

Decades ago, tobacco companies put ads in LGBTQ media to show tobacco as a normal part of LGBTQ life. Today, tobacco and vaping companies use social media the same way. Rates of vaping and smoking are high among LGBTQIA2S teens.

You and your community don't have to bear the health burden from the harms of tobacco and vaping product use. You can quit smoking or vaping.

Among Indigenous peoples, tobacco is a sacred herb, used in ceremonies, with respect and honor. Smoking commercial tobacco just for the heck of it, or to satisfy your own cravings, is completely different. It does not promote good health or give spiritual guidance and growth. Vaping has no traditional value either.

Quitting vs gaming

Quitting is like esports and online gaming…

If you want to climb the leaderboard, you have to master the basics, know the tips, and take control. It takes practice. You don't get to the top in an afternoon!

Quitting is like that.

You may not quit the 1st time, or the 2nd, or even the 3rd… But you get better every time you try. So, refresh and quit again. That's how it's done.

Quitting vs nicotine

When you smoke / When you vape

You inhale nicotine (a highly addictive substance that can interfere with healthy teen brain development).

Soon after your adrenal glands release adrenaline (a chemical that stimulates you by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration) and your brain releases dopamine (a chemical that creates feelings of pleasure and happiness).

The more you smoke or vape with nicotine, the more your brain wants it. When you stop smoking or vaping, your body fights back with withdrawal symptoms and cravings. But this fight is worth it to be free from the addiction and dependence on nicotine!

Wait out withdrawal

Right after quitting, some people get headaches, cough a lot, feel hungry, and have problems sleeping. More of them say they feel really moody and have trouble concentrating.

All of these are actually signs your body is getting healthier. They'll disappear in about 1 week when your brain gets used to a new, nicotine-free normal. Be ready to dig deep, be strong, and wait them out.

Crush cravings

Nicotine cravings may be in your future. A craving may be very short, about a minute long. The problem is you can have one craving after the other.

A great way to handle a craving is to change whatever you're doing. Get away from what's making you crave nicotine. Shift your attention to something else.

A craving can last less than a minute.

Stay powerful. Don't cave.

Resist the urge

Here are some suggestions from young Canadians who quit:

"Recite 'I don't need no nicotine' as often as you need to. I made a chant out of it, and it totally helped me in the beginning."
"Exercise! I try to do sports or stuff like that every day."
"Do deep breathing... whatever. Most of what makes a craving bad is the panic you feel. Breathing basically calms you down and makes the panic go away."
"Sing! It works great for me, it gives my lungs a workout and kills the urge to smoke. It also improves your mood! Or at least I think so."
"I just said to myself: Nicotine urges are not commands. I make my own decisions, and I've decided to ignore urges."

When you're quitting… What exactly will you do if you get the urge to smoke or vape?


After quitting, the number-1 reason to go back is stress.

Good news: You don't have to smoke or vape to handle stress.

The little stuff

Focus on today

You can stay smoke free or vape free just for a day, right? Well, that's all you need to do. Don't stress about tomorrow, take one day at a time.

Hang In there

You'll have bad days where you'll want to give in to the urge to smoke or vape. Just stick with the quit plan. You'll get there. In time, things will be OK, your stress won't last forever.

Be realistic

Quitting will be easier if you have support and help from your friends. Ask your friends to support your decision and encourage you. Be real! Your friends are there to help, but they can't quit smoking or vaping for you.

The big stuff

Be yourself

If you're questioning who you are and how you fit in, quitting can feel like another stressor. Try to overcome this feeling by using quitting as a chance to connect with people who are like you. With their support, the stress might be easier to handle.

Get help

Maybe you're shouldering some heavy burdens: bullying, school demands, death/loss or difficult family/friend relationships. These can easily push you back to smoking and vaping (not to mention other harmful behaviours).

Getting help from the right people can make all the difference in the world. Start with the Kids Help Phone. No matter what you want to talk about, someone is there to listen. No judgment. Totally private. 24/7. 1-800-668-6868

Feel better

Nicotine affects the brain in ways that make it harder to control emotions, impulses, and anxiety. If you're experiencing depression, quitting might seem harder, but not impossible. Quitting gives you a chance to regain control and feel better. Putting yourself first is worth it. If you're at risk of hurting yourself or others, dial 9-1-1.

Don't stress about…

Who else is smoking or vaping

Being around people who smoke or vape makes it hard to quit. Instead of going to the smoking area with them, you've got two choices…

  1. Make an excuse to not join them outside… like you have to go to the bathroom, and you'll meet them after.
  2. Be honest and explain you're trying to quit—nothing against them—and you need to avoid smoking or vaping areas for now.

Helpful Hint

Regular physical activity can actually help when you're trying to quit. It will make you feel better, keep you busy, and lower your stress. Decide to eat right, drink lots of water (avoid pop or energy drinks, ugh!), exercise a little bit more, and sleep well. This will all help you get through the challenges that come with quitting.

How do you "do you"?

Quitting can force you to step outside your comfort zone. It can disrupt your regular routines, change how you socialize, and reveal brand new parts of you.

  • What are you excellent at?
  • What will be better about you (or your life) when you quit?
  • If staying quit becomes a struggle, what will you do or say to yourself to get yourself back on track?

How others did it

"Finally took the plunge 2 weeks ago and have no doubt my last cigarette was Thursday night the 6th of February. I'm not going to allow myself to become complacent with my success, as I have let myself get hooked from just one puff before and will not fall into that trap ever again."

My advice: "Make a plan, set a date for your last one and don't look back, because in my case the "looming Quit" was far more painful and scarier than the total relief of my mind when I knew I had that last one. Give it a go and be free of the burden and surprised how much easier life can be without being ruled by nicotine."

My advice: "Pick a quit date, plan for it, and no matter what you think or feel, don't let yourself have a single puff of anything. Remember this too will pass."

"When I think of my smoking, I can see I used it to cope with bad situations and emotions. I think that's why quitting was so hard for me. I didn't have good coping skills, I mainly had escaping skills. So whenever things got really tense I smoked more. Finally, after a really bad time, I decided to take control of my life and cleanse my whole body and mind. I exercised as much as I could to fill my time and clear my head. I drank huge amounts of water….. I also leaned on my friends…. I won't lie, it was very hard, but I'm so proud to say I haven't smoked in over a year. When I look back, it feels like I changed fast. But at the time, every day felt like a year. It's easy to overlook small changes and not appreciate them. But now, I see the difference is immense."

"8 days now and feeling powerful. I was talking to a friend today (he smokes) about my journey so far, and to my surprise he congratulated me on my decision."

Staying quit

Quitting smoking / Quitting vaping

There's no such thing as failure

Like everything else in life, quitting might feel easy, or it might feel hard. It might feel so hard that you take a puff/hit or 2, or 20! Maybe you totally start up again. This doesn't mean you failed.

Most people who go back to smoking after quitting can say exactly what made them start again. If this happens to you when quitting smoking or vaping, keep track of what made you go back to it. The next time you quit, be prepared to get past that glitch in your plan.

  • Have you ever started smoking/vaping again after quitting?
  • What made you start up again?
  • What did you do or what could you do to prevent that from happening again?

"Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle."

Christian D. Larson

Additional Resources

Health Canada

Canadian Cancer Society

Canadian Lung Association

Centers for Disease Control (United States)

Conseil québécois sur le tabac et la santé (in French)

Lung Health Foundation

Ontario Tobacco Research Unit

Smoking tracking card

Smoking card

Text description

A 3-week smoking tracking card to record the day, number of cigarettes smoked per day and amount spent on cigarettes per day or week to measure progress over time and track how much money could have been saved.

back side of smoking tracking card

Text description

My reasons to quit smoking

The back of the card has lines so one can include their own reasons for quitting smoking.

I Quit for me smoking tracking card

Vaping tracking card

Vaping card

Text description

A 3-week vaping tracking card to record the day, number of sessions or hits per day and amount spent on vaping products per day or week to measure progress over time and track how much money could have been saved.

back side of vaping tracking card

Text description

My reasons to quit vaping

The back of the card has lines so one can include their own reasons for quitting vaping.

I Quit for me vaping tracking card

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