New research published in Annals of Internal Medicine reports that quitting smoking using the “cold turkey” technique, or quitting all at once, is the best way to kick the habit. According to the study, 22 percent of participants who went cold turkey remained abstinent at the six-month mark, compared to just 15 percent of the gradual group participants.
These results are impressive considering the many people claim that choosing one particular day to quit is a daunting task, despite the American Cancer Society’s guidelines that suggest a quit date. While cutting back gradually can work for some people, it often leaves room for increased cravings which can impede the work put into quitting, but there is still hope. They key is taking the first step.
"The people who did make a quit attempt were as likely to stay quit whatever group they were in. Based on this we have suggested that people who reduce their smoking before quitting find the experience of cutting down difficult and this causes them discomfort, like cravings, which ultimately may put them off quitting altogether,” said lead study researcher Dr. Nicola Lindson-Hawley.
It is important to remember though, as noted in the study, that “gradual reduction may encourage smokers, perhaps those less motivated, or those with lower self-efficacy, to make a quit attempt." So, an attempt to jump right in and quit cold turkey may be the best choice, as evidenced by this study.