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Quitting smoking is contagious

The Bupa health information team has circulated an interesting US study.

Getting together with mates in the pub or making a pact with your partner makes a real difference to your chance of succeeding if you are trying to give up smoking.

The chance that a person in the study smoked fell by:

  • 67 % if a spouse quit smoking
  • 36 % if a friend quit smoking
  • 34 % if a co-worker (in a small company) quit smoking
  • 25 % if a sibling quit smoking

Smoking may be addictive, but quitting is contagious, according to a new study investigating patterns in smoking behaviour among social networks.

People tend to quit smoking in droves with whole clusters of interconnected smokers giving up at the same time, rather than stopping smoking alone. Those people who remained smokers became increasingly pushed to the fringes of their social network.

The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated smoking behaviour and social ties in more than 12,000 people, over a period of 32 years.

First-degree contacts (those people directly connected to an individual, such as a spouse or friend) had the greatest influence on a person's likelihood of quitting smoking. This link was observed regardless of how far apart the contacts lived. The strongest connection was with a husband or wife, with a person 67 % less likely to smoke if their spouse quit smoking.

However, even second and third degree contacts (people who an individual may not even know, but who they are linked to indirectly through other contacts) - were found to influence a person's likelihood of quitting.

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Quitting smoking is contagious
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