Addiction Smoking
03082015_smoking_cigarettes_AP Dave Martin/AP file

According to the American Lung Association, close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21.

March 16, 2016

Study: Cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking

British study finds that people are more likely to stay tobacco-free if they quit all at once instead of gradually

If you want to quit smoking, just do it cold turkey. Those are the findings from research published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reports Reuters.

The purpose of the study was to find out whether it's better to gradually quit smoking or to quit all at once. Researchers recruited almost 700 smokers in England and had one group stop smoking immediately, while the other group reduced tobacco use over the course of two weeks. Both groups got nicotine patches and support from nurses to help them quit.

Six months later, 22 percent of people who had quit cold turkey were still tobacco-free, compared to just 15.5 percent of the group who gradually quit. Researchers used chemical breath analysis to confirm that the non-smokers really were abstaining.

Participants were also asked before the experiment whether they wanted to quit gradually or all at once. They were sorted into the groups randomly, so these preferences didn't affect which method they tried, but the preferences did affect how successful they were at quitting.

People who wanted to quit right away had a 52 percent chance of making it to four weeks without a cigarette, compared to 38 percent of the people who wanted to quit gradually. It's possible that the people who wanted to quit gradually had less motivation to stop smoking in the first place.

Read the full story here.