Study Discovers Best Scientist-Approved Tactic to Quit Smoking

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

One of the hardest things for smokers to do is quit the addicting habit of smoking. There is a multimillion dollar industry to help smokers quit their nicotine habit, which is, in itself, a billion dollar industry. The U.S. government has implemented many rules, laws, and public health advertising agendas to reduce smoking in the general population. A seemingly effective tactic involves using graphic images that are meant to frighten current and future smokers.

But now, according to a new study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the graphic approach is not an effective one. In fact, the success rate of the graphic tactic is one that depends on the smoker themselves, according to the study from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The researchers found that among smokers who had the preconceived notion that quitting would be difficult, messages that emphasized “quitting smoking reduces the risk of death due to tobacco” were extremely efficient. The graphic ads; however, were only effective in the population who believed that they had control and could quit whenever they wanted to.

“A combination of pictorial warnings featuring risk-based (i.e., loss-framed) and efficacy enhancing (i.e., gain-framed) information may promote better public health outcomes,” write the authors of the study’s conclusions. “Research is needed to investigate how strategically framed warning messages impact smokers’ behaviors based on their pre-existing attitudes and beliefs in real-world settings.”

Taking into consideration that the American Lung Association cites that smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, the findings of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center study are crucial for smokers trying to quit and public health professionals trying to help people stop smoking.

Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals which, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, are attributed to a wide array of health conditions, including: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), coronary heart disease, stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, pneumonia, periodontitis, and bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. Smoking is also a major factor in a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease.

TIME magazine points out that the graphic ads are efficient, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched an ad campaign called “Tips From Former Smokers,” which showcases former smokers and their consequent health problems. According to the CDC, its quit hotlines have 80 percent more activity when the ads are running, suggesting that the “fear tactic” does make a difference.

In a report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals that the process of quitting smoking is one that takes several attempts, and in order to boost the success, it is important to seek counseling and medication — individual, group, and telephone counseling have all proven to be effective in quitting. For battling the symptoms of withdrawal, using nicotine replacement products (e.g. nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges) is beneficial.

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