Is It Better to Stop Smoking Abruptly or Gradually?
Michael Craig Miller, MD
Harvard Health Letters
Q. I've tried to quit smoking three times. A friend suggested that instead of giving cigarettes up all at once that I try to kick the habit gradually. Which method is best?
A. The traditional view has been that establishing a "quit day" to stop smoking helps increase the chance that people will actually be able to kick the habit. But a review by the international Cochrane Collaboration concluded that a more gradual approach is just as effective and may be more appealing to smokers who want to quit.
The authors reviewed 10 randomized controlled studies, involving 3,760 participants, comparing the outcomes of quitting abruptly or gradually. They found that abstinence rates were about the same regardless of whether people quit smoking abruptly or gradually, whether they used nicotine replacement therapy, and whether they tried to quit on their own or participated in a support group.
Unfortunately, the analysis further confirmed the sad reality that you are not alone -- most people were unable to kick the habit after one try. Over all, 202 of 1,979 smokers (10.2 percent) who stopped smoking gradually remained abstinent at least six months later, compared with 192 of 1,781 smokers (10.7 percent) who quit smoking abruptly.
Still, smokers who want to quit have other options. Research on smoking cessation suggests that combining methods -- such as using both a support group and nicotine replacement therapy -- boosts the odds of quitting. In addition, the Cochrane review did not examine the impact of medications such as bupropion (Zyban), which can be used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy.
Another option is varenicline (Chantix), which both imitates and blocks the effects of nicotine, reducing craving in some smokers. Whatever you do, keep trying. Many smokers make multiple attempts before succeeding.
Available at Amazon.com:
- Is It Better to Stop Smoking Abruptly or Gradually?
- Brain Scan Alone Cannot Predict Likelihood of Dementia
- Is Sunscreen Dangerous? 4 Sun Protection Dos And Don'ts
- Low Platelet Count Not Necessarily Reason to Postpone Surgery
- Could Swimming in Cool Water Cause a Heart Attack?
- Bringing Psoriasis Under Control
- Best Summer Foods for Sensitive Stomachs
- Fight the Common Mold Allergy
- Largest Ever Cell Phone Cancer Study is Inconclusive
- Treating Early-Stage Esophageal Cancer
- TNF Inhibitors Offer Relief to Those With Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Prostate Exam Good First Stop When PSA Levels Increase
- 7 Nasty Germs That Could Land Your Kid in the Hospital And How to Avoid Them
- Secondhand Smoke A Serious Public and Personal Health Problem
- What to do About Excessive Belching and Feeling Full?
- Chest Pain: A Heart Attack or Something Else?
- Screening Plays Key Role in Detecting Polyps Before They Become Cancerous
- Learn How to Read Supplement Labels
- Compression-Only CPR Can Replace Conventional CPR in Many Circumstances
- Diabetes: Could You Have Diabetes and Not Know It
- Fighting Inflammation with Food
- Cortisone Injections Unlikely to Have Negative Affect on Bones
- Bad Health Habits Rob Years From Life Span
- The Importance of Decreasing Dietary Sodium
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Takes Your Breath Away
- 7 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease
- Hypotension or Stiff Arteries May Cause Low Diastolic Blood Pressure
- Is It OK to Travel to a High Altitude With High Blood Pressure?
- Existing Drugs to Treat Herpes Are Very Effective
- Dry Mouth Can Be a Serious Problem
- 6 Simple Ways to Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- All About Gout: Old Disease Becoming More Common
- Frequent Monitoring Critical to Effectively Manage Scleroderma
- How to Identify Suicide Risk Before It's Too Late
- Tips for Natural Allergy Relief
- Inflammation May Play Role in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Bouncing Back After Being Sick
- Nicotine Patch May Offer Some Benefit to Ulcerative Colitis
- Common Myths and Misconceptions About Diabetes
- Vitamin E Supplements Not Recommended for Those With Diabetes
- Tick-Borne Disease Risk Peaks in Spring and Summer
- Meibomitis Creates Receptive Environment for Bacteria
- Top 4 Seasonal Allergy Mistakes
- Stress Less: Ten Strategies That Work
- Paralyzed Limbs Revived by Hacking Into Nerves
- Can Acid Reflux Damage my Esophagus
- Treadmill Test Can Reveal Hidden Problems in Heart
- Suffering From Allergies? Tailor Treatment to Your Symptoms
- Researchers Break Through to Unconscious Patients
- Key Factors Related to Heart Attack Risk
- Type 2 Diabetes Increases Risk for Cardiovascular Problems
- Hypochondria: The Impossible Illness
- Surgeries Can be Combined But May Not be Necessary
- Is Heartburn Surgery the Answer?
- Best Cooking Methods for Heartburn Sufferers
- 14 Things You Might Not Know About Aspirin
Copyright © 2010 Harvard Health. All rights reserved.