If you are trying to quit smoking, you may be more likely to succeed long term if you stop abruptly than if you gradually cut down before quitting, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The participants were all smokers who wanted to quit; half were told to go cold turkey on a set date, while the other half gradually reduced their smoking during the two weeks before their quit date. Both groups were offered advice about quitting as well as access to nicotine gum and patches. Four weeks after their quit dates, 49 percent of the cold-turkey group were still abstaining, but only 39 percent of the gradual quitters. After six months, the difference was 22 percent versus 15 percent.
Previous research has had conflicting findings about the relative benefit of gradual smoking cessation. If you don’t succeed in quitting by going cold turkey, keep trying. It often takes multiple attempts, using different methods, to finally kick the habit for good.
Also see Changing Bad Health Habits.