Stopping "cold turkey" has a higher success rate for quitting smoking.
Researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom say you have a better chance of stopping smoking tobacco products if you quit “cold turkey” instead of trying to gradually cut down until you can quit.
A report on UPI says the study found 49 percent of the participants who stopped smoking completely were still not smoking after four weeks, but among those who tried the gradual process, only 39 percent were still smoke-free.
Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal about 400,000 Americans lose their lives to smoking related causes each year, and is the leading preventable cause of death. Plus, for each death, an additional 30 are dealing with some type of smoking related illness, not to mention the problems the expense and stress from the illnesses cause to their family members and loved ones.
Stopping smoking significantly reduces the risk of the diseases, but it is not an easy thing for most people to do. Bouts with stress, weight gain and cravings contribute to low rates of success in quitting, but still, many are able to quit, some with aids such as nicotine replacement therapy or counseling. For some, the ability to quit only comes after several failed attempts.
This new research from England evaluated almost 700 adult smokers, who averaged smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes per day. Ninety percent of the participants were white, and half women, with an average age of 49 years. The researchers randomly assigned the study’s volunteers to reduce their cigarette usage by 75 percent over two weeks in attempting to quit, or were asked to stop smoking immediately.
All the participants received counseling and nicotine replacement medications after the beginning of the study. The researchers followed up with the subjects at four weeks and after six months, using blood testing to confirm they had indeed stopped smoking. After the six-month evaluation, 16 percent of the gradual quitters and 22 percent of the cold turkey smokers were able to still remain smoke-free.
Despite what seems like a low success rate, the researchers say that rate compares favorably with normal percentages, but is higher than the success rates for those trying to stop without medication or counseling.
What’s to be learned from the study, which was published in the March 14 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine? The team says you should try first to stop smoking abruptly, but if that doesn’t work, the gradual approach may be successful. Whatever approach you need is the one that works best for you.