Do flavors help you stop smoking?
Smoking is known to be very harmful to health and can even lead to premature death. However, many people have problems quitting smoking. Researchers have now found that deliberately inhaling a pleasant aroma can be enough to avert the craving for a cigarette.
A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh found that inhaling flavors can help quit smoking. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Abnormal Psychology".
Inhaling flavors as a strategy to quit smoking?
When people want to quit smoking, they often use nicotine chewing gum to avert existing cravings for cigarettes. However, deliberately inhaling a pleasant aroma can be enough to at least temporarily reduce the urge to smoke. This could be used as part of an effective smoking cessation strategy in the future, the study's authors report. Despite disappointing relapse rates, there have been few new approaches to smoking cessation in general. Reducing the demand also offers only a few alternatives. Using pleasant smells to break smoking habits would be a unique and novel way to reduce cravings.
Many people try to quit smoking without success
While the number of smokers has dropped in the past 50 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still around 40 million Americans. Most adult smokers want to quit, and at least half report that they tried last year. Half of these people had already relapsed within two weeks. “Even with nicotine replacement, relapse is common. New interventions are urgently needed to help the millions of people who want to quit but are unable to, ”explains Dr. Michael Sayette of the University of Pittsburgh in a press release.
232 smokers participated in the study
For the study, 232 smokers aged 18 to 55 were recruited who were willing to quit smoking but did not use any other nicotine delivery system such as chewing gum or vaporizer. They were asked not to smoke for eight hours prior to the experiment, and they had to bring a pack of their favorite cigarettes and a lighter. At the beginning, the participants smelled different smells and evaluated whether they found them pleasant. These smells included, for example, chocolate, apple, peppermint, lemon or vanilla as well as an unpleasant chemical smell, tobacco of the preferred brand of cigarettes and a neutral sample without smell.
Participants assessed their desire to smoke themselves
The participants were then asked to light a cigarette and hold it in their hands, but without smoking it. After ten seconds, the participants verbally rated the desire to smoke on a scale of 1 to 100 before extinguishing the cigarette and putting it in an ashtray. The participants then opened a container that contained either the smell they had rated the most pleasant, the smell of tobacco, or no smell at all. They then smelled that container before reassessing their urge to smoke. They continued to smell the container for the next five minutes, evaluating their desire to smoke every 60 seconds.
Pleasant aromas significantly reduced the desire to smoke
The average desire to light the cigarette was 82.13. Regardless of the smell that the participants smelled, they all felt a reduced urge to smoke after they smelled the container. The average desire to smoke from people who had noticed the pleasant smell decreased significantly (19.3 points) compared to people who smelled of tobacco (11.7 points) or the empty container (11.2 points).
More research is needed
The researchers were not surprised by the results, as they confirm and expand the results of a much smaller, exploratory study that they had previously conducted, study author Dr. Sayette. Pleasant flavors seem to lead to a greater decrease in desire because smokers are distracted from the thoughts of their desire by memories associated with olfactory cues. However, further research is needed to confirm this hypothesis. "Our research suggests that the use of pleasant smells is promising to fight nicotine cravings in people trying to quit smoking," says Dr. (as)