Want to stamp those butts out for good (please say yes)?
Cold turkey is the way to go. According to a new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, people who abruptly quit smoking were 25 percent more likely to be cigarette-free six months later, when compared to smokers who attempted to gradually give up the habit.
Researchers at the University of Oxford examined 700 long-term smokers in England who wanted to quit. Half of the smokers were instructed to pick a day to give up the habit and stick with it. The other half were told to gradually cut back on smoking for two weeks leading up to their quit day.
Both groups were given nicotine patches to use in the days leading up to their respective quit days. Afterward, both were also provided patches and counseling.
A month after their quit dates, 49 percent of the cold turkey group had kept from smoking, compared to 39.2 percent of the gradual-quit group. Six months after their quit dates, 22 percent of the cold turkey group was not smoking, compared to 15.5 percent of the gradual group.
While success rates were better for the cold turkey group, Nicola Lindson-Hawley, lead study author and a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford in England said both results were impressive.
"Health care workers should offer abrupt quitting first, but if that is not an option, gradual quitting can be a second-line show," she said in a statement, CNN reported. "We understand that people might be dead set against quitting abruptly so if the only way they would consider quitting is gradually then the results of this trial suggest it shouldn’t be ruled out."
The researcher also said that those wanting to quit should seek support from products and people known to help. "There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if you would like to quit the best way to do so is by seeking help in the form of behavioral counseling and a treatment such as nicotine replacement therapy or varenicline," she said, Reuters reported. "However, there are also benefits of calling quitlines, particularly if these go on to provide proactive support for quitters."
Lindson-Hawley theorizes that the cold turkey method works better because, in essence, it's ripping off the bandaid in one fell swoop. "In the gradual group, because they were put through it in a gradual way, they lost the motivation," she said.