Pleasant smells can reduce the urge to smoke, study shows

Next time you reach for the nicotine gum, consider a  perfume bottle instead.

Scientists have found that deliberately sniffing a pleasant scent can reduce the urge to light up another cigarette.

They believe sweet smells could be used as part of an effective strategy to help people quit smoking.

While most smokers want to be free of their habit, half of those who try to give up relapse within two weeks.

To investigate an alternative approach, researchers recruited 232 smokers aged 18 to 55 who were asked to avoid tobacco for eight hours prior to the study.

Using pleasant odours to disrupt smoking routines would offer a distinct and novel method for reducing cravings

First, participants were invited to smell and rate a number of odours generally considered to be pleasant, including chocolate, apple, peppermint, lemon and vanilla.

Then they were asked to light a cigarette and hold it in their hands, but not smoke it.

After 10 torturous seconds, the volunteers rated their urge to smoke on a scale of one to 100 before extinguishing the cigarette.

Participants then went on to sniff from a container that held either the scent they rated most pleasant, the smell of tobacco, or nothing that caused an odour.

All of them experienced a reduced urge to smoke after sniffing the container, but average scores dropped significantly more for those smelling their favourite pleasant odours.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Sayette, from the University of Pittsburgh, US, said: “Our research suggests that the use of pleasant odours shows promise for controlling nicotine cravings in individuals who are trying to quit smoking.

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

The findings  are published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

- Press Association

More in this Section

Theresa May’s future: What the UK papers say

The right thing to do: MPs react to Andrea Leadsom’s decision to quit

Theresa May’s future: What happens now?

Israeli scientists brew beer with revived ancient yeasts


This is why Zandra Rhodes thinks it’s important to support young designers

Empty-nester Lorraine Kelly reveals a stylish makeover of her daughter Rosie’s bedroom

Sandal season is almost here: 5 footwear trends to be seen in this summer

From childhood bread baking to exploding seaweed, these are the Hairy Bikers’ food memories

More From The Irish Examiner