(Picture: Getty)Giving up smoking is hard. Really hard.
You need tonnes of willpower and normally a helping hand in the form of nicotine patches or gum.
A new study has discovered a novel way to help beat cravings – and it doesn’t involve any medication.
According to the research, simply breathing in pleasant odours – including chocolate, vanilla and peppermint – could decrease the urge to smoke a cigarette.
The study, conducted at The University of Pittsburgh, found that smokers, who weren’t even trying to quit, saw the intensity of their cravings fall by 23% when they were able to breathe in the smell of their favourite scent.
That compared to a 14% drop in people who were given tobacco to sniff or a neutral smell.
‘New interventions are urgently needed to help the millions who wish to quit but are unable,’ explained Dr Michael Sayette, lead author of the study.
‘Even with nicotine replacement, relapse is common.
‘Using pleasant odours to disrupt smoking routines would offer a distinct and novel method for reducing cravings, and our results to this end are promising.
Around half of the people who try to quit will relapse within a fortnight, said the researchers. Only 4% of people who tried to quit by going cold turkey have managed to successfully give up after a year.
In the study, 232 smokers smelled and rated a number of different pleasant odours, as well as an unpleasant odour, tobacco from their preferred cigarettes, and one blank odour.
The results suggest that these smells can have a positive effect on an individual’s ability to give up smoking, although the scientists admit that the reason for this effect remains unclear.
Dr Sayette also noted that additional research needs to be done to see if this strategy could prove useful alone or in combination with other approaches for quitting.
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