May 26, 2019 | Updated: 10:32 PM EDT

Pleasant Aromas Can Help Smokers Quit, Study Shows

Apr 19, 2019 10:44 AM EDT

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If you are a smoker who is trying to kick the habit, you can do so by smelling lemon, peppermint or vanilla. These aromas could help your urge to smoke and it could also help you restrain yourself from grabbing another stick. According to new research from the United States, smelling pleasant aromas may help ease cigarette cravings.

The research that was carried out by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, who experimented on around 232 smokers between the ages of 18 and 55. These smokers who participated in the experiment were trying to break the habit. They were asked not to smoke for eight consecutive hours before the experiment was conducted. They were then asked to rank their favorite aromas. Some of the aromas used in this experiment were vanilla, lemon, chocolate, apple and peppermint. Their preference was used to conduct the experiment.

As part of the study, the participants were asked to hold a cigarette that was lit, but not smoke it. They were then asked to evaluate the intensity of their urge to smoke the cigarette on a scale of 1 to 100.

After putting out the cigarette, they were asked to smell the aroma of their choice, the smell of tobacco or an empty container, before again rating their urge to smoke, said Michael Sayette, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, lead author of the study, published in Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

The average score of their craving after lighting the cigarette was around 82%. No matter which aroma they smelled, all the participants of the study experienced a decrease on their urge to smoke after smelling the empty container. However, the craving scores dropped around 19 points in the participants who smelled their choice of pleasant aroma, compared to 11.7 points for those who smelled the aroma of tobacco or 11.2 points for those who smelled an empty container.

Smelling a pleasant aroma could help reduce the urge to smoke, although it is temporary. "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," concludes Dr. Sayette.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than four million people die every year from smoking-related diseases, it means that there is one death in every eight seconds. If the current trend continues in the years to come, the WHO estimates that annual smoking-related deaths could reach 10 million by 2030.

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