Quitting sucks. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried. Nicotine has a strangle hold on smokers that is so incredibly tough to break that most smokers aren’t able to successfully quit on their first try. Not only is there a strong chemical addiction to nicotine that the body has a hard time shaking but there’s also a psychological addiction that a lot of people overlook.
Smoking is a routine for most people. They smoke at regular times such as work breaks, before or after meals, first thing in the morning and so on. So when a smoker wants to quit not only do they deal with their body craving the chemical but they also face constant reminders in their daily life when they enter a situation where they would have smoked. This gets even tougher when a would-be quitter finds himself or herself in a social situation where people around them are smoking. Temptation is everywhere.
In a new study overseen by UCSF, researchers may have found an answer that allows smokers to work toward quitting while allowing them to give in to temptation. New low nicotine cigarettes have lower amounts of chemicals and nicotine than the normal version and allow smokers to give in to the psychological addiction while they work toward their goal.
The study focused on 135 smokers between the ages of 18 and 70 and concluded that the smokers used the same amount of low nicotine cigarettes as they did when they smoked normal cigarettes; that is to say that they didn’t desire to smoke more to compensate for the lower amount of nicotine.
Researchers are working toward finding the exact amount of nicotine needed to maintain a chemical addiction. Once they find this number, smokers can wean their way to quitting by buying cigarettes with less and less nicotine over time until they break the addiction.
“The idea is to reduce people’s nicotine intake, so that they get used to the lower levels, and eventually get to the point where smoking is no longer satisfying,” said Neal Benowitz, the UCSF researcher who led the study.
While smoking rates are still declining all over the country, one in five deaths is still caused by the habit, which begs the question: Are more people quitting or are there just fewer smokers alive?