The results of a randomized trial reveal that smokers who wanted to quit were more likely to successfully stop smoking when they set a date and just stopped.

The 6-month cessation rate was 22.5% among trial participants who did not change their smoking habits before a designated quit date and then went “cold turkey,” compared with 15.5% for participants who were told to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked each day by 75% over the 2 weeks before their designated quit date (relative risk 0.71, 95% CI 0.46-0.91), reported Nicola Lindson-Hawley, PhD, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The finding that abrupt smoking cessation with a designated quit date was more effective than stopping gradually should help clinicians counsel their patients who want to quit smoking, she added.

“Both of these methods were relatively effective, so the message is not that gradual reduction doesn’t work,” she told MedPage Today. “For people who have tried quitting abruptly and don’t want to do it that way again, it may be a better option. But for others, our study suggests that quitting abruptly may improve their chances for success.”

Smokers who want to quit are generally advised to set a quit date, but it has not been clear if trying to cut down before that date affects the chance for success.

View the full story at