Why Quitting's a Drag

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No wonder it's so hard to stop smoking. Not only is nicotine addictive, but so, in a sense, are cigarette ads.

Researchers at UCLA report that advertisements for cigarettes light up in the memory of abstaining smokers far more robustly than in smokers who are happily puffing away

When shown a series of ads for cigarettes or cars, active smokers could later recall both types equally well. But smokers who had abstained for 20 hours—around the time nicotine craving hits its peak--were 50 percent more likely to remember the cigarette ads, report Martin Rosenblatt, MA., and Murray Jarvik, M.D., Ph.D. "When you're trying to quit, these ads have even more of an impact than they would if you were still smoking," says Rosenblatt. "We need to train ex-smokers to deal with seeing these ads without relapsing."

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