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The 6 most scientifically proven methods to help you quit smoking

Quitting smoking is considered one of the hardest bad health habits to break

Jen Christensen | 5/26/2015, 6:16 a.m.
For more than 50 years we've known that smoking can kill you.

— For more than 50 years we've known that smoking can kill you.

It is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and yet 42.1 million people light up and new smokers start every day.

"Smoking is my best friend," Atlantan Barry Blackwell said. "It's always with me long after friends have left and people have gone, they are always here."

To help people who do want to quit, scientists have looked with great interest into what works. Especially since studies have shown that 90% of those who try to quit, will start smoking again despite their best efforts.

Here are some options that have been scientifically proven to work, at least some of the time.

Financial incentives

Financial benefit from quitting, may be your best bet -- literally -- particularly if you risk losing your own money.

A new study that runs this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows some promising results. Looking at more than 2,500 people enrolled in a CVS Caremark program, the study found people who had a financial incentive to quit had some remarkable success, at least after 12 months of trying.

The most successful program was one in which a person deposited $150 first. The person would get that plus $650 more if they successfully refrained from smoking. People in that program also got advice on quitting, access to a free counseling program and were offered nicotine-replacement therapy like gum or the patch. Of those people, 52.3% quit.

The next biggest group to quit, got an $800 incentive (without having to put down a deposit) and the other resources. Only 17.1% were successful with the larger payout but no potential loss of their own money.

Cold turkey

Only the most disciplined among us can quit without any help. Studies show only about 4-7% can do it without any additional help.

If you want to try this method, what works best is to be mentally prepared, the experts say, and really commit to it. Also, get ready for the symptoms of withdrawal.

The folks at Quit Smoking Community.org suggest you drink water when the cravings start. Distract yourself with something else. Maybe go for a walk or go talk to someone. Try breathing deeply and slowly and think it though. It'll be tough, but the feelings will pass.

One other thing that could help is to ask for support. Let your friends and family know that you are trying to quit. They can help keep you honest.

Find company

Love can help you through, according to a recent study that ran in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Just less than half of the men in that study were successful in their attempt to quit if their partner also quit, compared to 8% success if their partner did not stop. Similarly, half of women quit if their male partners also quit smoking. Positive peer pressure seems to help.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Inhalers, nasal sprays, lozenges, gum and skin patches that deliver nicotine slowly are designed to help smokers get over the initial cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. And they do seem to help.