Quitting smoking cold turkey may boost your chances of quitting permanently. A new study supports the longstanding concept that people who quit cold turkey are more likely to successfully kick the habit than those who gradually wean themselves off smoking.

Researchers from England studied nearly 700 adults who wanted to quit smoking. Half of the participants were advised to stop smoking altogether on a specific day, while the other half was asked to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked over two weeks leading up to their quit day. To help them resist the urge to smoke, both groups received nicotine replacement therapy like nicotine patches, as well as counseling.

Researchers found that:

  • 49 percent of participants in the abrupt-quit group had stopped smoking altogether by one month after the quit day.
  • Only 39.2 percent in the gradual-quit group had quit altogether.
  • By six months, 22 percent of the abrupt-quit group was not smoking, compared with 15.5 percent of the gradual-quit group.

Importantly, the study showed that both methods can be effective with the proper support and nicotine replacement therapy.

Adventist HealthCare is part of a long history of efforts by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help people stop smoking including introducing a groundbreaking program in 1954 to help smokers “kick the habit” in just five days. This successful program helped to inform the U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report linking cigarettes and lung disease – and has influenced the work of smoking cessation for decades. Today, both Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center offer a Tobacco Cessation Program to support people who want to quit smoking.

The program offers one-on-one counseling, free nicotine replacement therapy – including nicotine patches, lozenges and gum – and referrals to additional support programs, explained Breanne Dabbs, tobacco cessation counselor and coordinator at Shady Grove Medical Center.

Tips to make quitting smoking more manageable:

  • Get ready. Select a quit-date when you won’t have a lot of stress in your life and try to cut down beforehand. Talk to your partner or friends about your goal and rid your house of ashtrays, lighters or spit cups.
  • Change your routine. For example, if you smoke after eating, take a walk instead.
  • Use medicine. The proper nicotine replacement therapy can help manage cravings and stress and doubles your chances of quitting smoking.
  • Get support. Seek help from:
    • A professional smoking cessation program like that at Adventist HealthCare;
    • The national tobacco quit-line: 1-800-QUIT NOW;
    • Free smartphone or tablet apps or internet programs like smokefree.gov;
    • Doctors, nurses or therapists; or
    • A friend who has quit smoking.

Thinking positively and using stress coping mechanisms like journaling, exercising, counseling and prayer – instead of smoking – can improve your mindset and help to address the underlying causes of stress that often trigger smoking, explained Breanne.

Are you thinking of quitting smoking? Set up your free consultation with one of Adventist HealthCare’s Tobacco Cessation Program counselors.

Sources: Adventist HealthCare, CNN, MedPageToday