For smokers, quitting is easier said than done. While some have successfully kicked the habit, most don’t find going cold turkey so easy. In their quest to quit, some people have tried nicotine substitutes like patches and gums, while others have tried incorporating lifestyle changes and exercise as means to distract their brains from craving a stick.

In a study posted at, researchers have found that a combined approach to quitting smoking has proven to be effective--with results that actually stick. The combined approach involves nicotine-replacement therapy through medication and behavioral counseling.

"Since we know that both types of treatment are effective, the assumption has certainly been that offering both will be better than offering either alone," says lead researcher Lindsay Stead of the Department of Primary Health Care Sciences at the University of Oxford. Stead and her co-author conducted the study involving more than 20,000 smokers, by measuring the effects of combination therapy against medication therapy alone and no intervention altogether.

The results were convincing: combined medication and behavioral therapy increased quitting rates by as much as 70 to 100 percent compared to the group who only underwent medication therapy and the group with no intervention at all. For the combined approach, behavioral therapy consisted of four to eight sessions with counselors or health care physicians.

Normally, counseling would involve a pre-quit session, provision for materials for cessation, and a follow-up visit or call a few weeks later. With regular sessions with counselors, quitters have been able to stick to their lifestyle change better, especially when provided with medication. So if you wish to quit smoking, research for the best ways on how you can. Ask your doctor to lead you to the right direction.

(Photo by Philippa Willitts via Flickr Creative Commons)

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