It is no big secret that smoking is one of the most dangerous habits a person can have. The problem, of course, is that while the health risks increase immediately after a person starts smoking, they do not necessarily begin to appear for many years—even decades—down the road.
This makes it increasingly harder to quit smoking, which is the only way to reduce the risks introduced from smoking.
Of course, this means doctors will always advocate for smoking cessation: that anyone who wants to improve their health can do so—and with near immediate benefit—by simply quitting smoking. And a new study helps to support what doctors already know: quitting cold turkey is usually the best way to ensure long term success.
“For many people, the obvious way to quit smoking is to cut down gradually until they stop,” said the University of Oxford post-doctoral researcher. “However, with smoking, the norm is to advise people to stop all at once and our study found evidence to support that. What we found was that more people managed to quit when they stopped smoking all in one go than when they gradually reduced before quitting.”
The research team found that after six months, 15% of gradual quitters and 22% of abrupt quitters remained abstinent.
In the report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, she describes: “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 (i.e. patches or gum) or varenicline. However, there are also benefits of calling quitlines, particularly if these go on to provide proactive support for quitters.”
She says that these results demonstrate that the best way to quit—for those who are truly serious about it—is to go cold turkey. It might not be easy, at least at first, but it is the method with the highest rate of success.