New Year’s resolution! Stop smoking!

January 1, 2017

Quitting abruptly works better than gradually, research shows.

Researchers in England recently published evidence in the Annals of Internal Medicine that abruptly stopping smoking works better than a gradual approach. General practitioners enrolled 697 patients interested in quitting and divided them into two groups to study the effect of abrupt versus gradual tobacco discontinuation.

A research nurse gave all participants extensive behavioral support for two weeks before the quit date. Both the abrupt cessation group and the gradual cessation group were provided nicotine patches to use beginning two weeks prior to quitting.

Participants in the abrupt cessation group were instructed to stop smoking immediately and completely on their quit date, while the gradual cessation group were instructed to reduce smoking to half of the baseline amounts by the end of the first week and to a quarter of the baseline amount at the end of the second week. Twenty-two percent of the abrupt cessation group were successful in tobacco abstinence at the end of six months, whereas only 15.5% of the gradual cessation group were successful at six months, which met the criteria for statistical significance.

The authors concluded, “Quitting smoking abruptly is more likely to lead to lasting abstinence than cutting down first, even for smokers who initially prefer to quit by gradual reduction.”

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! asking smokers to power their path to happiness. Stop smoking now! Make it a 2017 New Year’s resolution!

Reference: Lindson-Hawley, N. et al, 2016. Gradual Versus Abrupt Smoking Cessation: A Randomized, Controlled Noninferiority Trial. Online [available at]: [Accessed December 21, 2016].