Quitting cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking, British scientists have reported.

All 700 participants in a British study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine were given a two-week deadline to kick the habit. Half were allowed to smoke as usual and then quit suddenly on the day of the deadline. The other half gradually weaned themselves off cigarettes during the two weeks leading up to the deadline, before stopping.

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Everyone in the study received support such as behavioral counseling from nurses, nicotine patches, gum and other products to replace the nicotine. Researchers from the University of Oxford followed up, checking in with the former smokers for a month after their quit day and then again six months later to see if they were still tobacco-free.

The clear winners: those who took the cold turkey approach.

After four weeks, 49 percent of the people who abruptly stopped smoking stuck with it. Of those who gradually cut down their smoking before the deadline, only 39 percent were still abstinent four weeks later.