HealthDay News — Quitting cigarettes “cold turkey” beats a more gradual approach, according to research published online March 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The latest research included 697 adult smokers from England. The study participants smoked an average of 20 cigarettes a day. More than 9 in 10 of the participants were white. The average age of the smokers was 49, and half were women. The study volunteers were randomly assigned to quit smoking abruptly or to cut down gradually by 75% over two weeks. The researchers followed up at 4 weeks and 6 months after the experiment started. Blood testing was used to confirm whether smokers had actually quit.

The researchers found that at 4 weeks, 39.2% of those who’d gradually quit had stopped smoking compared to 49% of those who stopped abruptly. At 6 months, 15.5% of the gradual quitters and 22% of the abrupt quitters were still non-smokers.

“Most people thought cutting down would suit them better,” lead author Nicola Lindson-Hawley, PhD, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, told HealthDay. “But whatever they thought, it turned out they were better to try to quit abruptly.”


  1. Lindson-Hawley N, Banting M, West R, et al. Gradual versus abrupt smoking cessation: A randomized, controlled noninferiority trial. Ann Intern Med. 2016; doi: 10.7326/M14-2805.
  2. Ferreira GS, Steinberg MB. Going slow may not be best when quitting smoking. Ann Intern Med. 2016; doi: 10.7326/M16-0326