What's the best way to quit smoking – gradually cut down your ciggies each day or just stop? If you want to stub it out for good, you might find it easier to go cold turkey.
See also: E-cigarettes being used by 2.2m
That's the advice of researchers from University of Oxford, who carried out a study to see which stop-smoking strategy is most effective.
Nearly 700 smokers who wanted to quit took part. They were split into two groups: half used gradual cessation, cutting down their nicotine intake over two weeks, and the other tried abrupt cessation.
The group that went cold turkey picked a day to quit and didn't change their smoking habits leading up to that date. Both groups had access to counselling and nicotine replacement therapy.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that going cold turkey is the best option. Four weeks later, 49% of abrupt cessation participants were able to kick the habit, compared to 39% of the gradual cessation group.
Proving how hard it is to kick the habit, most people in the study failed to quit smoking, whichever method they used.
Lead researcher Dr. Nicola Lindson-Hawley suggested that having a nicotine schedule and cutting down gradually was more harmful than helpful, saying it provided smokers "with an extra thing to do, which may have put them off quitting altogether".
However, she admitted that going from heavy nicotine use to tobacco-free overnight isn't the best option for everyone, adding: "Many people cannot imagine being able to stop completely. For these people, it is much better to attempt to cut down their smoking than do nothing at all."
Three products that may help you quit smoking:
Boots NicAssist Nasal Spray 10mg/ml (Nicotine), £20.50