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Trying to Quit Smoking? Try Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

A Study finds that smokers who consume plenty of fruits and vegetables are three times more likely to quit

If you're trying to quit smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables may help you quit and stay tobacco-free for longer, according to a new study published online by University at Buffalo public health researchers.

The paper, in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is the first longitudinal study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and smoking cessation.

The authors, from UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions, surveyed 1,000 smokers aged 25 and older from around the country, using random-digit dialing telephone interviews. They followed up with the respondents fourteen months later, asking them if they had abstained from tobacco use during the previous month.

"Other studies have taken a snapshot approach, asking smokers and nonsmokers about their diets," says Gary A. Giovino, PhD, chair of the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at UB. "We knew from our previous work that people who were abstinent from cigarettes for less than six months consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who still smoked. What we didn't know was whether recent quitters increased their fruit and vegetable consumption or if smokers who ate more fruits and vegetables were more likely to quit."

The UB study found that smokers who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables. These findings persisted even when adjustments were made to take into account age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income and health orientation.

They also found that smokers with higher fruit and vegetable consumption smoked fewer cigarettes per day, waited longer to smoke their first cigarette of the day and scored lower on a common test of nicotine dependence.

"We may have identified a new tool that can help people quit smoking," says Jeffrey P. Haibach, MPH, first author on the paper and graduate research assistant in the UB Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. "Granted, this is just an observational study, but improving one's diet may facilitate quitting."

Several explanations are possible, such as less nicotine dependence for people who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables or the fact that higher fiber consumption from fruits and vegetables make people feel fuller.

"It is also possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke," explains Haibach.

And unlike some foods which are known to enhance the taste of tobacco, such as meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol, fruits and vegetables do not enhance the taste of tobacco.

"Foods like fruit and vegetables may actually worsen the taste of cigarettes," says Haibach.

While smoking rates in the U.S. continue to decline, Giovino notes, the rate of that decline has slowed during the past decade or so. "Nineteen percent of Americans still smoke cigarettes, but most of them want to quit," he says.

Haibach adds: "It's possible that an improved diet could be an important item to add to the list of measures to help smokers quit. We certainly need to continue efforts to encourage people to quit and help them succeed, including proven approaches like quitlines, policies such as tobacco tax increases and smoke-free laws, and effective media campaigns."

The UB researchers caution that more research is needed to determine if these findings replicate and if they do, to identify the mechanisms that explain how fruit and vegetable consumption may help smokers quit. They also see a need for research on other dietary components and smoking cessation.

Gregory G. Homish, PhD, assistant professor in the UB Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, also is a co-author.


Irish Smokers amongst youngest in Europe to start habit

Irish teens begin smoking earlier that their European peers-- taking their first puff when they are just 16.

A new Euro-barometer on attitudes towards tobacco showed the European average age for starting smoking is 17-and-a-half years.

Smoking is also a little more common in Ireland than the EU as a whole, with 29pc of the population here lighting up.

This compares to an EU average of 28pc, although it is as low as 13pc in Sweden, the results released to mark World No Tobacco Day today revealed.

Other finding show:

• Irish smokers smoke 15.7 cigarettes every day, down 0.3 on the previous survey in 2009. The EU average is 14.2.

• Just over half of Irish people have never smoked, in keeping with the rest of Europe.

• Irish people, along with Slovakians, are the most likely to say that health warnings on tobacco packs have or had an impact on their behaviour towards smoking.

• Up to 66pc of Irish smokers (61pc across Europe) have tried to quit, including 33pc in the past year.

"Irish people are particularly in favour of such measures and are the most likely in the EU to support the banning of advertising of tobacco products in shops (84pc) and banning sales of tobacco products via the internet (83pc)," said the survey.

Up to 88pc also support keeping tobacco products out of sight in shops while 81pc are in favour of banning colours and logos from packets of tobacco.

European health commissioner John Dalli said: "I am deeply concerned about the fact that most Europeans start smoking in their early youth.

"I am committed to ensuring that Europe lives up to its international commitments on regulating tobacco products, including reducing cigarettes' appeal to young people."

Ipsos MRBI surveyed 1,008 people across Ireland. - Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent


New Harvard University study claims nicotine patches may not help smokers quit smoking

“What this study shows is the need to approve only medications that have been proven to be effective in helping smokers quit in the long-term and to lower nicotine in order to reduce the addictiveness of cigarettes.”

Studies found that nicotine replacement therapies (NRT – patches and gum) designed to help people stop smoking do not appear to be effective in helping smokers quit long-term, even when combined with counseling sessions.

Main author Hillel Alpert says, “This study shows that using NRT is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long-term than trying to quit on one’s own.”

The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Massachusetts in the United States who are now calling for greater regulation of which nicotine products can be sold over the counter.

The researchers followed 787 adult smokers in Massachusetts who had recently quit smoking. They were surveyed over three time periods: 2001-2002, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006 and were asked whether they had used a nicotine replacement therapy in the form of the nicotine patch placed on the skin, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, or nasal spray to help them quit, and if so, what was the longest period of time they had used the product continuously.

They were also asked if they had joined a quit-smoking programme or received help from a doctor, counselor, or other professional.

The results showed that, for each time period, almost a third of recent quitters reported to have relapsed. The researchers found no difference in relapse rate among those who used NRT for more than six weeks, with or without professional counseling. No difference in quitting success with use of NRT was found for either heavy or light smokers.

Researchers added that using public funds to provide NRT to the population at large is of questionable value, particularly when it reduces the amount of money available for smoking interventions shown in previous studies to be effective, such as media campaigns, promotion of no smoking policies, and tobacco price increases.


Smokers Who Quit Are Happier

Not only does their health improve, but people who quit smoking get a boost in their quality of life.

"Quitting is hard, but if you can actually do it, there are a lot of benefits that you might not have thought about," said Megan E. Piper, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

Researchers looked at 1,504 people who took part in a smoking cessation trial in the United States. The authors assessed each participant's smoking status and quality of life one year and three years after the smoking cessation trial ended.

"Our findings suggest that, over the long-term, individuals will be happier and more satisfied with their lives if they stop smoking than if they do not," the researchers wrote. "This research provides substantial evidence that quitting smoking benefits well-being, compared to continuing smoking."

The study's "quality of life" measures included the participant's health, personal relationships, self-regard and philosophy of life.

"Smokers might believe that quitting will decrease life satisfaction or quality of life — because they believe it disrupts routines, interferes with relationships, leads to a loss of smoking-related pleasure, or because cessation deprives them of a coping strategy," the study authors wrote.

But despite such concerns, the researchers found that those who quit experienced no such deterioration due to quitting.

On the contrary, quitters scored higher on measures of overall quality of life, health-related quality of life and positive emotions, both one year and three years after cessation, compared with those who continued to smoke.

Successful quitters also reported that they felt they had fewer stressors by the third year, according to the study, which was published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Piper said. "This is just a little bit of additional scientific evidence that things will get better if you can get through those first couple of months."


How to help overcome the ‘hand-to-mouth’ habit that makes it more difficult for smokers to quit.

A new approach to smoking cessation has revealed that it can help overcome the ‘hand-to-mouth’ habit that makes it more difficult for smokers to quit.

A survey of 353 UK smokers aged 35+ commissioned by nicotine free non-prescription smoking cessation aid NicoBloc, reports that 71% of the UK smokers questioned said they missed having something in their hands, when they were trying to quit. It’s estimated that an average 20 a day smoker will make the ‘hand-to-mouth’ action 73,000 times a year, adding extra psychological pressure on the would-be quitter.

The UK currently has around 10 million smokers  with approximately only 4% successfully quitting in the wake of the 2007 smoking ban in workplaces and public  places.  Of the  353  smokers  questioned for the survey, 78% who had all repeatedly tried and failed to quit reported that the habit of smoking was harder to give up than the actual chemical addiction.

Dr Lynne Dawkins, Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of East London comments:    “The hand-to-mouth action of smoking through associative learning mechanisms can become a deeply entrenched habit. The habitual act of reaching for a cigarette, coupled with reduced impulse control during a quit attempt, may constitute a strong relapse factor. Any smoking cessation aids which more closely resemble a cigarette could help more smokers to quit.”

NicoBloc is a two-step approach, first helping to break the addiction to nicotine and then helping to give up the physical cigarette and hand-to- mouth    habit.    An alternative to NRT and drug based smoking cessation methods,    NicoBloc is    a fluid    applied to the end of a    cigarette filter immediately before smoking. The fluid works by moistening the cigarette filter, cooling the smoke down as it is drawn through. The tar and nicotine vapour molecules condense back into solid form, sticking to the filter material instead of being passed through to the smoker.

Designed as a gradual reduction method, the amount of nicotine that is inhaled is gradually    reduced over a three week period. During the recommended six-week quit programme, one drop is applied in week one, two drops in week two and three drops from week three onwards. By this time up to 99% of tar and nicotine inhalation is blocked.

A previous two year study for NicoBloc called The Rosen Stop Smoking Programme followed 491 smokers over a six week period and yielded a quit success rate of 58%. Overall reduction in cigarette consumption of those that did not quit reached 77%.

Lita Huckle, 46, from Berkshire, who took part in the Rosen Stop Smoking Programme, finally quit in 1999 with the aid of NicoBloc having repeatedly failed to kick her 20 year 20-a-day habit. Since quitting, Lita has had a whole lifestyle change and is now an avid marathon runner.

Lita comments: “I had previously tried to quit before but found the lure of social smoking got in the way. When I used NicoBloc I didn’t have to quit straight away and it gave me a chance to get used to not smoking so much over a period of time before making the final break.”

NicoBloc is available in independent pharmacies and online with each pack including an instructions DVD, progress chart and a 15ml bottle which provides two weeks supply for a typical 20-a-day smoker. For further information and support visit

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