To Kick the Habit, Go Cold Turkey, Researchers Say

People who quit smoking all at once are more likely to be successful than those who cut down on cigarettes gradually. Researchers randomly assigned almost 700 adult smokers to either an abrupt quitting or gradual reduction group. In the gradual group, the nurse created a reduction schedule for participants to cut back on cigarettes by 75 percent over two weeks, and provided participants with nicotine patches and a choice of short-acting nicotine replacement items. In the abrupt quitting group, the participants were also given nicotine patches but no other items. Four weeks later, 40 percent of the gradual group were still not smoking, compared to 49 percent of the abrupt quit group, as verified by chemical breath analysis. By six months, 15 percent of gradual quitters and 22 percent of abrupt quitters were still abstinent.