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Quitting Smoking Cold Turkey Increases Success Rate By 25%: Study

03/17/2016 09:41 EDT | Updated 03/17/2016 09:59 EDT

When trying to give up tobacco, smokers tend to put off the definitive moment by gradually cutting down their daily consumption.

But this strategy may not be the best when it comes to successful quitting, according to a British study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In fact, the research showed that smokers had 25 per cent more chance of quitting cigarettes successfully by stopping smoking abruptly.

A team of researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. studied 697 smokers who had chosen to kick the habit.

The participants were split into two groups. The first went cold turkey, stopping smoking abruptly, whereas the second progressively reduced their consumption of cigarettes over a two-week period. All the volunteers were offered advice and support, as well as access to nicotine patches or nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum or mouth spray.

At the end of the two-week period, volunteers were assessed once a week for the four weeks following the study, then again after six months. Researchers asked them how they were getting on, before measuring the amount of carbon monoxide (CO2) they were exhaling as an objective means of checking whether they were sticking to their goal of quitting tobacco use.

After four weeks, 39 per cent of those signed up for "gradual cessation" no longer smoked, compared with 49 per cent of the "abrupt cessation" group. In conclusion, the results showed that the chances of successfully quitting smoking were 25 per cent higher when tobacco use was stopped abruptly.

The researchers found that most of the volunteers preferred the idea of gradual cessation to the cold-turkey approach. And since the more radical cessation method seems daunting to some smokers, the researchers stress that would-be quitters should still be encouraged to progressively cut down their tobacco consumption and seek adequate support to increase their likelihood of success.

The study is available here.

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