Cold Turkey: Myths, Benefits & Everything You Need to Know

If you have embarked on the quest to quit smoking, you must have tried, or at least thought about, the cold turkey method. Quitting smoking cold turkey means that you quit smoking immediately, just pouring some water onto your pack of cigarettes or throwing it away. And, just like that, you stop smoking instantly.

To what extent is the cold turkey method effective?

According to a study78 conducted in 2020, the cold turkey method to quit smoking was more successful than using pharmacological therapy, concluding that the cold turkey method is effective in long-term abstinence from smoking. A total of 196 patients were polled in this study from different origins. 103 patients successfully quit smoking for good. 14 patients were able to quit smoking in less than a year. To achieve long-term abstinence from cigarette smoking, 92 patients (89 percent) used cold turkey, and 11 patients (11 percent) used pharmacological therapy. The overall success rate for pharmacological therapy was 16%, while the success rate for cold turkey was 72%. A secondary finding revealed that health concerns were the most important motivator for both groups to quit smoking.

Similar findings have been previously reported in a different study79, concluding that the cold turkey method of quitting was also found to help with cessation success.

Why does not everyone jump on the bandwagon of cold turkey cessation?

Many people choose to quit smoking "cold turkey," which means they stop smoking abruptly without the aid of medication or nicotine replacement products. It's not easy to quit this way at all. While it may work for some people, it is not the most effective smoking cessation method.

Therefore, cold turkey is not for everyone! Otherwise, we would not have to deal with smokers today.

Over the last 25 years, research has shown that only about three to five people out of every 100 who try to quit smoking cold turkey succeed for more than six months80.

What are some cold turkey smoking cessation myths81?

  1. Willpower alone is sufficient: Because of the nature of addiction, quitting cold turkey has a low success rate. Willpower, your ability to control decision-making, is harmed by addiction. Nonetheless, while willpower alone is not an effective quit method, it can benefit those attempting to quit.
  2. Quitting cold turkey is easy: Quitting cold turkey entails quitting without the assistance of nicotine replacement therapy, including products, such as gums, sprays, and patches that are intended to reduce the desire to smoke. This is extremely difficult.
  3. Quitting cold turkey has similar withdrawal symptoms to quitting with the assistance of nicotine replacement therapy: Quitting cold turkey can upset your body's chemical balance, causing or exacerbating nicotine withdrawal symptoms, restlessness, cravings, depression, headaches, mood swings, digestive problems, and anxiety, among other. These side effects can be difficult to manage.

Also, read to know on everything you need to know about Smoking Cessation Program, here.

What are some cold turkey smoking cessation benefits82?

Arguably, the most important benefit to the cold turkey method is your insistence on quitting smoking. However, this benefit might be shortly lived as cold turkey quitting is difficult to follow through.

What to do instead?

Most people who attempt to quit smoking cold turkey are determined. They are also eager at first. However, soon after, the intense cravings strike, they relapse and feel worse about themselves and their habits.

Creating a plan that addresses the physical and mental challenges associated with quitting has a higher chance of long-term success. Using both counseling and medication during a quit attempt is more effective than doing only one of those things. It is also recommended to use nicotine replacement products along the way83!

Our NICORETTE® Freshmint Gums, which come in both 2mg & 4ng, have been proven quite effective to help smokers quit smoking.

In short, your decision to quit is admirable. And your willingness to act on this decision is praiseworthy! You owe it to yourself and your body to follow a healthy lifestyle. However, find the most suitable cessation aid to assist you along the process to ensure its success.

Our aim at Nicorette is to help you quit smoking for good. Find more blogs from our medical professionals and understand why you should embrace your smoke-free journey with us.

Also, read about how to quit smoking gradually here.


  • 78Johnson, M., Salzman, G., & Cheng, A. L. (2020). COLD TURKEY IS A COMMON AND EFFECTIVE METHOD FOR LONG-TERM CIGARETTE SMOKING CESSATION. Chest, 158(4), A2432.
  • 79 See, J. H. J., Yong, T. H., Poh, S. L. K., & Lum, Y. C. (2019). Smoker motivations and predictors of smoking cessation: lessons from an inpatient smoking cessation programme. Singapore medical journal, 60(11), 583.
  • 80
  • 81 Bottorff, J. L., Radsma, J., Kelly, M., & Oliffe, J. L. (2009). Fathers’ narratives of reducing and quitting smoking. Sociology of Health & Illness, 31(2), 185-200.
  • 82 Lillington, G. A., Leonard, F. C. T., & Sachs, D. P. (2000). Benefits of Smoking Cessation. Clinics in Chest Medicine, 21(1), 199.