Magazine article Science News

Smoking out the Best Way to Quit Smoking

Magazine article Science News

Smoking out the Best Way to Quit Smoking

Article excerpt

Smoking out the best way to quit smoking

Surveys show millions of people in the United States have quit smoking cigarettes, the vast majority of them without the help of a formal cessation program. Some studies indicate that smokers who quit on their own are two to three times more successful at kicking the nicotine habit than those who use various "stop smoking" manuals.

But that conclusion is challenged by a report in the November AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST, which presents data compiled from 10 long-term studies of smokers attempting to quit either on their own or with the help of instructive manuals. A total of 5,389 people participated in the studies.

Approximately 4 percent of both groups of smokers abstained from smoking for either six months or one year after their initial attempt to give up cigarettes, note psychologist Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his colleagues. Researchers checked abstinence at varying intervals in the studies by examining biochemical indicators of recent smoking, such as saliva levels of cotinine, a nicotine metabolite.

Abstinence rates among self-quitters and those using manuals were largely the same, the researchers found. "Hardcore" smokers were not more likely to have chosen the formal programs.

Previous studies have gone astray in assessing only the success of single attempts to quit smoking rather than charting the outcome of multiple attempts over a prolonged period, the investigators say. …

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