A new study has shown that stressing the benefits of not smoking may work better than emphasizing the negative effects of cigarettes in persuading smokers to kick the habit.
Researchers divided 28 specialists working at the New York State Smokers' Quitline into two groups.
One group was trained to emphasize the benefits of quitting (gain-framed messages) to smokers, while the other group gave standard-care messaging that focused on the potential losses from smoking and the benefits of quitting.
Between March and June 2008, 813 callers received gain-framed messaging, and 1,222 callers received standard messaging.
At two-week follow-up interviews, smokers who received the gain-framed messaging reported more quit attempts and a higher rate of non-smoking than those who received standard-care messaging (about 23 percent versus 13 percent).
However, at three months there was no difference between the two groups of callers.
Benjamin A. Toll, of the psychiatry department at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues said that the findings should encourage quit lines to test new strategies in an attempt to increase smoking cessation rates.
"Furthermore, gain-framed statements appear to be somewhat beneficial in enhancing short-term smoking cessation and other secondary outcomes, such as quit attempts and positive health expectancies," the researchers said.
The study has been published online Jan. 7 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.