The Key to Kicking the Habit?
(Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Researchers found an unlikely motivator for smokers to quit the habit -- don't plan on it.
Researchers from University College in London interviewed more than 1,900 smokers and ex-smokers, asking questions about smokers' attempts at quitting and whether their most recent attempt was planned in advance.
Successful smoking cessation is believed to involve several stages, starting with thinking about quitting to planning an attempt, to actually making the attempt. Researchers have long believed planning was important for success, however, this latest study offers some new insight.
Results show nearly half of the smokers' attempts to quit involved no previous planning. What's more -- those who didn't plan it were more likely to succeed. That held true even after adjusting for age, sex and socioeconomic status.
Investigators say these findings do not necessarily mean planning is counterproductive. They say behavioral support and nicotine replacement therapy are already proven to improve the chances of successful cessation (even though they generally require planning).
Instead, the theory researchers propose is smokers' state of mind at the time is important for whether they will succeed at a quit attempt -- planned or not. They believe motivational tension to stop and triggers in the environment could lead to a sudden desire to quit smoking.
To take advantage of this, researchers say public health campaigns should focus their efforts on what could be called the "3 T's:" Create motivational "tension," which "triggers" action in smokers to make an attempt at quitting, and provide immediate availability of "treatment" to support that attempt.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal, published online Jan. 26, 2006
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