A team of researchers from the U.K. may have put the debate on the best methods for quitting cigarettes to rest with a recent study. According to a report from the BBC, scientists have suggested that it is more effective to quit straight up than using a long, tapered approach to ending a smoking habit.
The study found that volunteers who were willing to go “cold turkey” had a 25 percent higher chance of staying off the cigarettes after a six-month period than those who tried to gradually stop smoking.
The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation, and followed 700 British volunteers who tried to quit using one of two methods – either by going cold turkey or by gradually giving up smoking.
Each participant had access to advice and support, as well as nicotine patches, gum or sprays that would aid in their quest to quell tobacco cravings. All of these products are available free of charge through the U.K.’s National Health Services.
After six months of trying to quit using a gradual slowdown in tobacco use, 15.5 percent of the participants had successfully abstained from smoking cigarettes. By contrast, 22 percent of the people in the group who quit abruptly were still tobacco-free after six months.
According to Dr. Nicola Lindson-Hawley from Oxford University, “The difference in quit attempts seemed to arise because people struggled to cut down. It provided them with an extra thing to do, which may have put them off quitting altogether.”
While the study has not offered a miracle cure for tobacco addiction, it does reinforce the idea that the best way to quit is simply to quit. By getting it out of the way, smokers who go cold turkey aren’t prolonging the period of tobacco cravings that make it difficult to quit in the first place.
The advice is simple – if you want to quit smoking, do it now.
A press release describing the details of the study from the University of Oxford can be found here.