How to quit smoking: 10 scientifically proven ways

Almost no one knew nothing about the dangers of smoking. This is often reminded in social videos, as well as in frightening images on cigarette packages. And yet the number of smokers is not decreasing. And those who really want to quit smoking, share that it is not easy at all. Scientists distinguish a number of effective ways to overcome such an addiction. Let’s look at them in more detail.

quitting smoking

Method #1: Quitting smoking cessation

Many scientists insist that quitting smoking is necessary to do drastically and decisively, and not gradually reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day. This way of instant “stopping” is called – “cold turkey” (sudden cessation of dependence on the substance). Studies have shown that quitting tobacco “abruptly” works much better than systematic nicotine reduction.

In 2016, a scientific journal published an article with the findings of a group of scientists from Oxford and other British universities. During the experiment, they involved 697 adult smokers with a history of quitting this bad habit in 14 days. All representatives of the experimental group received substitution therapy in the form of nicotine patches or sprays.

All volunteers were divided into 2 groups. People in the first group had to quit abruptly, and people in the second group had to quit gradually. According to the results of the experiment, 49% of the first group and only 39% of the second group successfully quit their addiction. Six months after starting the experiment, 22% of those who cold turkey quit and 15.5% of those who gradually struggled with addiction had no more tobacco.

Scientists believe that those who decide to fight addiction gradually, have less motivation. They reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day, little by little, and try to postpone quitting for as long as possible. In order to successfully give up smoking with determination, try to think in advance about how you will replace the habitual manipulation of this addiction. For example, drink 200 ml of water in the morning after waking up, instead of smoking a cigarette.

Method #2: eliminating triggers

Often a person could not smoke, but there are situations in which the hand itself reaches for a cigarette. These are what are known as triggers. Scientists recommend to calculate and write them down on paper. For 3-5 days, carefully analyze all situations in which you felt the urge to smoke.

Here are some of the possible ones:

  1. In conjunction with morning coffee;

  2. In order to get up the courage to talk to a girl;

  3. with colleagues during a smoke break.

Then start controlling at least the very familiar situations that happen to you on a daily basis. For example, if you like to smoke while taking your morning coffee, then try drinking tea or avoiding breakfast drinks altogether in favor of clean water. Try to develop a replacement strategy for each identified trigger. It won’t help you stop using it right away, but it may reduce your nicotine intake enough to keep you from quitting.

Smoking cessation

Method #3: support from loved ones

It’s hard for anyone to quit smoking, but the task is made even more difficult when done alone. British scientists in 2015 published in a scientific journal such findings: the likelihood of success increases if both partners with this addiction try to quit smoking at once. If one of them doesn’t want to fight the addiction, it will be much more difficult for the second one.

Beforehand, these scientists studied 3,722 couples over the age of 50 living together. About 50% of women and 48% of men were able to quit smoking with the support of their partner. And in those couples where the second partner continued their unhealthy habit, only 8% of men and 8% of women were still able to completely beat the addiction.

Support on social media helped some people to quit smoking. In 2015, Canadian scientists tested the effectiveness of an app designed to support those who choose to quit smoking. The participants were Canadians older than 19 and younger than 29. They had to give up nicotine for at least 4 weeks. With the help of the app, 32% of the volunteers coped with the task.

Method #4: Drug substitution therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has helped many older smokers to break with their addiction. There are several mechanisms of NZT in overcoming tobacco use. The main effect is to alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms when stopping tobacco use.

NZT comes in many forms:

  1. Nicotine patches that provide a slow release of nicotine into the bloodstream;

  2. nicotine-containing chewing gum, lollipops that guarantee faster delivery of nicotine to the brain than transdermal forms, but less quickly than smoking a cigarette;

  3. Nicotine-containing inhalers, nose and mouth sprays.

OST is effective on its own, studies show, whether it is used in combination with or without intensive counseling methods, and whether the medication is used as prescribed by your doctor or self-purchased without a prescription. In 2015, such drugs were included on the WHO list of essential medicines.

How to Get a Financial Stimulus

According to scientists, another effective way to quit smoking is a financial incentive. When your own money is at stake, it’s more motivating than the promised reward. This was proven in a 2015 experiment conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania. They involved 2,538 long-term smokers.

One group of volunteers received $200 each for 2 weeks, then a month and 6 months after being tested to be nicotine-free. And those who survived six months without tobacco received an additional $200 bonus. The maximum that representatives of this experimental group could earn $800.

And the second group of volunteers paid $150 at the beginning of the experiment. They were given a deposit back and a bonus of $650 if they were successful. As a result, the second group had lower incomes, but they were more likely to quit smoking. After 6 months, 17% of the volunteers in this group had successfully quit tobacco, and only 8% in the first group. Personal financial contribution found to be more effective.

Method #6: Eating fruits and vegetables

Researchers found a correlation between regular consumption of plant foods (fruits and vegetables) and easy smoking cessation. The specialists from the University of Buffalo in the USA used smokers from 25 years old for the study. These volunteers agreed to be interviewed twice, 14 months apart. They were asked questions about their eating habits and eating habits.

the study found that those who ate enough fruits and vegetables were 3 times more likely to cope with nicotine addiction than those who neglected plant foods. And those who continued to smoke but ate lots of fruits and vegetables noticeably reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked and showed fewer signs of tobacco addiction.

Researchers attribute this to the fact that fiber-rich plant foods help people stay full longer. It helps successfully fight nicotine addiction, since the feeling of hunger is often confused with the need to smoke.


Method #7: Exercise

If you want to go through withdrawal more easily while trying to quit smoking, be sure to exercise. More information on this can be found in the journal article
itish Journal of Pharmacology. Scientists share the fact that sports undoubtedly helps to fight the addiction, but for a long time the mechanism of this phenomenon remained unknown. Over time, however, an experiment was conducted on mice that brought clarity to this question.

In the process, it was found that physical activity of any intensity affects α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors located in the hippocampus. As tobacco addiction develops, their sensitivity decreases and the body requires more and more nicotine. Sports activity, on the other hand, restores receptor activity, which helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Method #8: Public condemnation

Canadian researchers conclude that one effective way to quit smoking is through social censure. They suggested replacing images of lung cancer with pictures of people with explicit condemnation on their faces. There were 156 people with nicotine addiction in this experiment. They were given packs of cigarettes with a notation that this is how the public looks at them.

One experimental group was shown tutus with pictures of people with normal facial expressions. And other volunteers were given packs with faces of judgmental people on them. Participants in the second group shared that they felt uncomfortable taking cigarettes from the packs they were given. Researchers think it may encourage these volunteers to make an effort in the future to quit smoking.

Method #9: Make smoking uncomfortable

Scientists recommend to make the process of smoking as uncomfortable for yourself as possible:

  1. Do not carry packs of cigarettes and gadgets for smoking. Give them to someone or hide them away.

  2. Always buy your cigarettes from the same place, preferably as far away from your job or place of residence as possible.

  3. Don’t buy cigarettes in packs. Buy the next pack only after the previous pack is finished.

  4. Choose filter cigarettes. Do not finish them halfway or 1/3rd of the way through

  5. After smoking a cigarette, try to get rid of the tobacco smell as much as possible. To quit, you may need to wash your hands, wash your face, brush your teeth, and even change your clothes.

  6. If you have a craving for a cigarette, do not take the cigarette out of the pack for at least 3-5 minutes. During this time, try to occupy yourself with something else to forget about the cigarette.

  7. Try to find out at what time of the day you are particularly craving for cigarettes. Find “the most important cigarette of the day”, so that if you have to give it up, you can start with it.

  8. Keep a record of the cigarettes you buy, recording the cost in a notebook. At the end of the week, tally up the results to see how much you could save by quitting.

  9. Make sure there are no cigarettes, ashtrays, or anything else in your home, workplace, or car that reminds you of your bad habit.

  10. Set a date for yourself when you will definitely quit. It would be nice if it had a special meaning for you (wedding anniversary, child’s birthday). On this day, try not to look for reasons to put off your plans for later.

Method #10: The help of a professional

If the above methods do not work, it is time to seek help from a specialist. First of all, you should visit a therapist. You may also need to consult a narcologist, psychiatrist, and other related specialists. A doctor can pick up special prescription medications that block the receptors in the brain associated with nicotine addiction. It will make quitting smoking much easier.

In addition to drug treatment, psychotherapy sessions have proven effective for this issue. Such specialist will study your psychological profile, will help you to find the reasons which make you reach for tobacco, and also will prompt, what changes in a life it is necessary to undertake, so that craving for nicotine as much as possible decreased.

Don’t concentrate solely on any one method. Everyone is different – what works for one may not work for another. And sometimes the different ways need to be combined with each other. Choose for yourself what seems most reasonable and comfortable. Do not give up, try new things and you are guaranteed success.

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