A recently published study suggests that going cold turkey may be the best strategy out there to quit smoking.
The recent study confirms’ the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for smokers who wish to kick the habit. The ACS also believes that choosing a “quit day” to ditch smoking is the most effective option.
Nevertheless, many smokers would rather go gradually by slowly cutting back the number of daily cigarettes until they smoke no more.
Dr. Nicola Lindson-Hawley of Oxford University, lead author of the study, noted that the gradual approach makes sense to most people because it is the best strategy to achieve other hard goals.
Plus, the gradual approach is the best strategy in other addictions than cigarette smoking, Lindson-Hawley added. Still, her team has found that in smoke cessation going ‘gold turkey’ is by far the best option.
The research involved 697 active smokers who planned to kick the habit. Volunteers were assigned to two groups: one that quit smoking abruptly, and another one that went for the gradual approach.
The latter group reduced number of daily cigarettes gradually by 75 percent in the 14 days before renouncing the habit. All participants received assistance from health care experts and had unlimited access to nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and other types of nicotine replacement therapy.
Volunteers were monitored every week. Scientists asked them details on their progress, while they were also measuring the amount of exhaled monoxide, which was a clear sign of whether participants were cheating or not.
After four weeks, nearly 40 of gradual quitters were still smoke free. By comparison, nearly 50 percent of smokers who went for the abrupt approach stayed off cigarettes.
After six months, 15 percent of gradual quitters were still non-smokers, while 22 percent in the other group kicked the habit.
Lindson-Hawley and her team believe that the differences may be due to the fact that gradual quitters are less motivated to quit smoking, or at least try it, than people who quit abruptly. Plus, gradual quitters had harder times with cravings than the abrupt group.
Dr. Gabriela S. Ferreira from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School who was not involved in the study thinks that gradual approach may be still an effective method especially in those weak-willed and with “lower self efficacy” since many smokers tried the abrupt approach several times and failed.
The study was published March 14 in today in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.
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