Pleasant smells may help smokers resist cigarette cravings

Kicking their cigarette habits for good represents a real challenge for many people. While most adult smokers admit they want to quit, about half of those who try to stop relapse within two weeks. There are many approaches that people use to cease smoking like nicotine gum or behavioral therapy, but most of them fail to treat the actual addiction. Now, a recent study has shown that there may be a novel option when it comes to giving up cigarettes. The findings suggested that smokers may find cigarettes easier to resist when they smell things they enjoy like peppermint or chocolate. The researchers recruited 232 smokers who were asked to smell and rate a number of different odors generally considered to be pleasant (like chocolate, vanilla, or lemon) as well as one unpleasant chemical odor, tobacco from the participant’s preferred brand of cigarettes and one blank (no odor). They were asked then to light a cigarette and hold it in their hands, but not smoke it. After 10 seconds, the participants verbally rated their urge to smoke on a scale of 1 to 100 before putting out the cigarette. The average craving score just after lighting the cigarette was 82.13. However, with a pleasant odor, craving scores dropped almost double than those with a tobacco odor or with the blank. While it’s premature to make any solid conclusions, the results are intriguing and support the need to further investigate why and for whom olfactory cues might be effective.

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