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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.

— A scientific literature review that looked at more than 150 different tests of these devices (accounting for more than 50,000 people) showed that the likelihood someone would quit when using them increased by 50-70%. No one method seemed to work better than the other, nor did these devices work any better (or worse) with counseling.

The study does caution that people considered heavier smokers may need to use more product than lighter smokers. Starting to use one of these NRTs shortly before you really make up your mind to quit may make them more effective. People who use NRTs in combination with the antidepressant bupropion also show additional success.

Prescription drugs

Talk to your doctor if you want to take the prescription route, but there are some drugs that seem to have some success, especially if used with an NRT. In addition to drugs like bupropion, there's something called varenicline, also known by the brand name Chantix. This works by targeting the nicotine receptors in your brain. That means you don't get as much pleasure from smoking and it lowers your feelings of withdrawal. Some studies have shown taking this drug can more than double your chances of quitting compared to taking no drugs at all.

E-cigarettes

The jury is still out on this method.

In 2014, a study that ran in the British journal the Lancetfound of the 657 people trying to quit over a period of six months, e-cigarettes did help about 7.3% to quit. That was more than the 5.8% of the people in the study who used a patch. What stood out most to the study's authors was that so few the people were successful quitting using any method. They concluded more research is urgently needed.

Another group that presented their research at the American Thoracic Society Conference this month found that while some people did quit using e-cigarettes rather than regular cigarettes, they didn't necessarily quit for good. Looking at more than a thousand people who wanted to quit, the authors found those who had more success quitting in the short term used e-cigarettes, but this effect was no longer observed at three- or six-month followups.

Something to keep in mind

Quitting smoking is considered one of the hardest bad health habits to break. The American Cancer Society cautions, "The truth is that quit smoking programs, like other programs that treat addictions, often have fairly low success rates. But that doesn't mean they're not worthwhile or that you should be discouraged."

If you do quit, it dramatically lowers your chances of getting lung cancer and many other types of cancer. It reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke significantly, and reduces your chances of getting other kind of lung problems. Smoking ages your skin and studies show an increasing number of people say they won't date smokers, so quitting improves your social life too.