Mathematical model shows smokers how to give up. Stopping suddenly not the best approach.
In this area, it is as though the smoker were sitting on a see-saw. 'The dynamics of the model lie in the variation of the will to stop, the self-control. This is what enable you to get from one state to the other,' explains Grasman. The trick is to get the smoker onto that see-saw and eventually to get past the tipping point.
The best prescription appears to be to smoke less for a period of time. Compared with alternatives such as quitting abruptly or stopping gradually, the success rate is the same (30 percent) but the method is pleasanter. The duration of the therapy can be adjusted to the wishes of the individual. Those who find it hard to quit abruptly can opt for a longer therapy period in which they start by cutting down. In fact, Grasman is suggesting a tailor-made approach to quitting smoking.
Grasman's model is based on the physiological processes underlying addiction. 'The model makes a link between the intake of nicotine and people's behaviour. This link has not been made before.' According to Grasman, the approach should be usable for modelling other forms of addiction too. He will focus on obesity next.