Quitting cigarettes abruptly may be more effective than gradually abandoning smoking habits, says a new study that analyzed cigarette consumption patterns of almost 700 people. Results were published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Just in the U.S., 68.8% of adults smokers want to quit.

The study was conducted in England, with the collaboration of nearly 700 participants who were extremely addicted to smoking and wanted to quit the habit. Researchers divided them into two groups. One group was requested to abruptly stop smoking while the other group was ordered to gradually reduce cigarette consumption for two weeks before they completely stopped smoking.

Quitting cigarettes abruptly may be more effective than gradually abandoning smoking habits. Photo credit: The Spirit Science
Quitting cigarettes abruptly may be more effective than gradually abandoning smoking habits. Photo credit: The Spirit Science

Nonetheless, participants from both groups received nicotine patches, gum, pills, and nicotine short-term therapies, before and after their quit day of smoking cigarettes. Furthermore, they received counseling therapy, as reported by CNN.

Results would appear to show that 49 percent of participants of the first group were not smoking after 30 days of their quit day. By contrast, 39.2 percent of people who had gradually reduced consumption, were not smoking after the same period of time.

It appears that after six months, the percentages of success decreased to 22% for the group that undergone cold turkey, and 15 percent for the gradual-quit group. That being said, results are still relevant, when comparing them to other methods for quitting smoking.

Researchers have said that health care providers should first recommend people to abruptly stop smoking. If it doesn’t work, gradual quitting can be also an efficient method, explained Nicola Lindson-Hawley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford in England.

“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.” Mr. Lindson-Hawley said in an interview with CNN.

There are other factors that interfere when quitting smoking. It appears that results are better when people receive social support and nicotine replacement therapy, Lindson-Hawley said. Patches, gum, and Chantix, a nicotine-free pill that helps to quit the habit, are also good alternatives to keep in consideration, he added.

Psychology also plays an important role, people who had determined attitudes towards abruptly quitting smoking, before they participated in the study, were effectively more likely to kick the habit, according to Lindson-Hawley.

A relevant number of smokers in the United States want to stop smoking

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, 7 out of every 10 adult cigarette smokers in the country said in 2010 that they wanted to quit completely. Two years later, the CDC reported that 42.7 percent of all adults smokers had stopped smoking for an undefined period of time because they were trying to quit.

The tobacco industry in the country is huge, it is calculated that it spends every hour more than $1 million on advertising and promotion. However, smoking costs the U.S. nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults, since 16.8 percent of all adults smoke (40 million people).

“We hypothesize that you get it all out of the way in one go [by quitting abruptly]. In the gradual group, because they were put through it in a gradual way, they lost the motivation,” Lindson-Hawley said, according to CNN.

Source: CNN