Internet sites like Whyquit.com encourage smokers to eschew nicotine patches, gum and other cessation devices and quit smoking cold turkey, the Columbia News Service reported March 24.
“You’re putting off the inevitable that you have to go through anyway, which is the withdrawal from nicotine,” said Sheri Odom, 40, who tried repeatedly using nicotine patches and gum, only to succeed in 2004 without any nicotine aids. “I think cold turkey, just from my experience, was the easiest. I just got it over with all at once.”
Quitters like Odom say that the nicotine-replacement therapies (NRT) only draw out withdrawal symptoms and feed their addiction. Whyquit.com advises smokers to quit without first cutting down or using nicotine replacements.
The website includes information on studies that question the effectiveness of NRT products.
Founder John Polito got the idea for the website after repeatedly failing to quit using NRTs. He said it is better to go through the three days of withdrawal from nicotine than spending months and money on NRTs.
“The levels of long-term success are dismal” with NRT, said Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health. “More important, I think the role of nicotine replacement therapy as part of a national policy to address smoking cessation has been over emphasized … Quitting cold turkey has been the most effective way of quitting smoking.”
According to the American Cancer Society, 80 percent of ex-smokers said they quit cold turkey. But the U.S. Surgeon General states that, “The most effective way to quit smoking is by using a combination of counseling and nicotine replacement therapy” or medicines like Zyban.
Researcher Saul Shiffman of the University of Pittsburgh said that NRT can almost double the odds of successfully quitting smoking. He said the big advantage of NRTs is that they allow smokers to focus on making behavioral changes without having to confront craving.