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Thinking About the Future Helps Smokers Quit

Smokers with a "long horizon" are more likely to put down the habit, study finds.

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By Valerie Tejeda

09/07/12

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If you want to ditch your cigarette habit, you might want to stop living in the moment—and focus on the future. Those who dwell on the days-to-come are more likely to quit smoking, according to a new study published in the journal Addiction. Researchers from Newcastle University in Britain looked at eight years of data from 7,000 households in Australia who are surveyed annually about family, well-being, and work. Through the survey, 1,817 people were identified as smokers when the survey began in 2001. The researchers then analyzed the participants saving and spending habits in the future years. Those who planned for a week or less were categorized as having a shorter horizon, and those who planned over three months ahead, were placed in the category of having a longer horizon. The researchers then examined if any of those 1,817 smokers surveyed quit smoking or attempted to quit before or in 2008. The results showed that 76% of those who quit smoking were in the longer horizon group. “It is possible that helping smokers to think about the future a bit more might be a useful way to help them quit,” said co-author Jean Adams. Researchers in other fields have also discovered that future planners were more likely to quit other addictions including cocaine.

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