Quitting smoking is easier when couples try together

When couples attended smoking cessation programs together, their odds of quitting were nearly six times higher than for people who attempted to kick the habit alone, according to preliminary research presented April 12 at EuroPrevent 2019.

The study enrolled 222 current smokers and their significant others—99 of whom were current smokers, 40 of whom were ex-smokers and 83 of whom never smoked. The couples attended one of four 16-week preventive cardiology programs and were offered nicotine replacement therapy with patches, gum or the prescription drug varenicline.

At the end of the programs, 64% of patients and 75% of their partners had stopped smoking—an increase from 0% and 55% abstinence at the start of the interventions, respectively. Couples who tried to quit together were 5.83-fold more likely to stop than those when only one partner was attempting to quit.

“Quitting smoking can be a lonely endeavor,” study author Magda Lampridou, of Imperial College London, said in a press release. “Partners can distract each other from the cravings by going for a walk or to the cinema and encouraging replacement activities like eating healthy food or meditating when alone. Active support works best, rather than nagging.”

All patients enrolled in the study had either experienced a previous heart attack or were considered to be at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Stopping smoking can cut a person’s risk of CVD in half, according to the release, and Lampridou et al.’s study suggests social support is key in those efforts.

“Smoking cessation interventions should incorporate couples where possible to achieve a smoke-free household,” Lampridou said.