Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with life expectancy for smokers at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And knowing that is why quitting smoking tops many a smokers’ list of New Year's resolutions.
But new research suggests that Jan. 1 may not be the best day to quit.
Researchers analyzed Google searches for help on quitting smoking – in six languages (English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) across the globe from 2008 to 2012 – and found that searches peaked on Mondays. In fact, by Saturday, the searches were 145 percent lower than on Monday.
People see Monday as a fresh start, much like the new year.
“On New Year’s Day, interest in smoking cessation doubles,” said the study’s lead author, John Ayers of San Diego State University. “But New Year’s happens one day a year. Here we’re seeing a spike that happens once a week.”
Study co-author Joanna Cohen, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control in Baltimore, says that this knowledge could be employed in targeting ads and staffing hotlines, reports USA Today.
But the Monday hook can work as personal inspiration as well.
Since history suggests that it takes most people several attempts to quit, by having more frequent start dates to try again, the chance for success is increased. Whereas you may not be motivated to rescue a failed New Year’s resolution until the following year, by targeting Mondays instead, a new attempt can be made in just a week.
"If you relapse, you can try again next Monday," Cohen says, noting that quitting attempts are planned around a big day like a birthday or New Year's Day, but "we want to tell people they don't have to wait a year to try again."
Tom Glynn, senior director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, says that many people resume smoking on weekends.
"We always tell smokers that when they slip, it's not a failure, it's just part of the process," he says. “The idea that Mondays are '52 opportunities a year' to quit for good is "an optimistic message.”
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