Science 3 min read

New Study: Pleasant Odors Can Decrease Cigarette Cravings

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things you can do. Now, new research shows a way to help stave off those cravings. ¦ markusspiske / Pixabay

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things you can do. Now, new research shows a way to help stave off those cravings. ¦ markusspiske / Pixabay

Smokers that are trying to quit often depend on Nicotine gum to stave off the cravings.

While this method may be effective, it often comes with a lot of downsides. These include heartburn, oral irritation, dental pain, and increased blood pressure. Aside from that, Nicotine gum users also have to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

According to the American Psychological Association, there could be a safer and more effective way to reduce the urge to light up.

Studies show that deliberately inhaling a pleasant aroma could decrease cigarette cravings. Although the effect is temporary, the researchers believe that it could serve as part of an effective smoking cessation strategy.

In a statement to the press, researcher from the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study, Micheal Sayette Ph.D. said;

“Using pleasant odors to disrupt smoking routines would offer a distinct and novel method for reducing cravings, and our results to this end are promising.”

How Sniffing Pleasant Odors Could Reduce Cigarette Cravings

Two hundred and twenty-three smokers – who were not trying to quit or using other forms of nicotine delivery system – from ages 18 to 55 were asked to quit smoking for eight hours before the experiment.

However, they had to bring a pack of their favorite cigarette alongside a lighter when coming.

Upon arrival, the participants first smelled and rated some pleasant odors – from chocolate, apple, and lemon, to peppermint and vanilla. Next came the unpleasant chemical odor, tobacco from each participant’s preferred brand, and one blank (no smell).

After that, they had to light a cigarette and hold it in their hands for 10 seconds, without smoking it. The researchers then asked the participants to rate their urge to smoke on a scale of 1 to 100 before putting out the cigarette.

In the second phase of the experiment, the participants were asked to sniff a container that held one of three scents – what they had rated most pleasurable, tobacco, or blank.

The sniffing went on for five minutes, while the researchers collected their “urge to smoke” ratings every 60 seconds.

Findings of the Experiment

The researcher recorded a significant reduction in the average craving score. Whether a participant sniffed the pleasant smell, tobacco, or blank, the urge to light a cigarette was lower.

How is this possible, you ask?

Sayette hypothesized that the reduced cravings under the three conditions might be due to smokers removing temptation after extinguishing their cigarette.

The researcher also believes the olfactory cues linked with the pleasant smells distracted the smokers from thoughts of their cravings. For example,  peppermint reminded some of the smokers of Christmas at their Grandparents’ house.

Sayette noted: 

“Our research suggests that the use of pleasant odors shows promise for controlling nicotine cravings in individuals who are trying to quit smoking.”

With that said, more research is necessary to confirm this hypothesis.

Read More: Crowded Cities Wants to use Crows to Murder Cigarette Littering

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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    Isaac Hesson April 17 at 2:03 am GMT

    Is olfactory cues like a triggering factor?

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