Experts want smokers to quit – again and again

    A new idea to help smokers stick to their resolution to quit.

    Today is the Great American Smoke Out, that’s the day each year when health experts try to get smokers to give up their cigarettes for good.

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    Health researcher Robert Lawrence sends his congratulations to smokers planning to kick the habit. He calls it a choice likely to extend your life. Lots of studies confirm that. But Lawrence says studies also show that most smokers who quit for the first time today will likely pick up the habit again soon.

    Lawrence: Instead of feeling discouraged and saying: ‘Well, OK, maybe I’ll quit again on New Year’s or I’ll quit again on my birthday, Monday offers an opportunity that seems to work well.

    Lawrence and other experts want former smokers to associate each Monday with their decision to abstain from cigarettes. He studies health behavior at Johns Hopkins University and says most people need regular reminders to stick to a healthy habit. The first day of the week is a practical, self-renewing reminder that doesn’t have to be programmed into a Blackberry or marked on the calendar.

    Still, studies found that email or voicemail nudges are also effective.

    Lawrence: People receiving them, compared to the control group, had a much higher quit rate for staying off cigarettes or a much higher adherence rate to an exercise program.

    Lawrence says the re-commit Monday idea also works for other resolutions, like eating less.

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