Stopping smoking DOESN’T make you more stressed, say successful quitters

Smokers who are worried they will struggle to stay calm after throwing out their cigarettes should take note – a study has found quitters cope with stress just as well after beating the habit.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin looked at the psychological impact of giving up, after noticing many smokers assumed quitting would reduce their quality of life.

Helpful Smokers often believe smoking helps them deal with stress but a study of successful quitters suggests otherwise

Helpful Smokers often believe smoking helps them deal with stress but a study of successful quitters suggests otherwise

Smokers worried about their “decreased ability to cope with stressors and negative effects, social ostracism, loss of pleasure and intense cravings”, the team wrote in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine.

They said that although it was well-established that quitting improved health and save lives, there had been little research into its effect on subjective well-being.

The scientists, led by Dr Megan Piper, performed a placebo-controlled trial involving more than 1,500 male and female smokers, who they then asked to try and quit the habit.

Each participant completed an assessment and took a biochemical test to confirm their smoking status at the start of the trial, with a follow-up one and three years later.

The team found that smokers who managed to quit long-term saw an improvement rather than any deterioration in their quality of life.

Quality of life measures included health, self-regard, philosophy of life, standard of living, work, recreation, learning, creativity, love relationship, friendships, relationships with family, home and community.

Compared to those who continued to smoker, the quitters scored higher on all of these measures and experienced more positive emotions both one year and three years on. They also said they felt they had fewer things to feel stressed about by the third year.

The authors said: “This research provides substantial evidence that quitting smoking benefits well-being compared to continuing smoking.

“Smokers might believe that quitting will decrease life satisfaction or quality of life – because they believe it disrupts routines, interfereswith relationships, leads to a loss of smoking-related pleasure, or because cessation deprives them of a coping strategy.

“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.”