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Why the “cold turkey” method of quitting vaping or smoking doesn’t work – and what does

Whether it’s cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or any other tobacco product, trying to quit “cold turkey” – meaning to stop abruptly without any support or replacement medications – is unlikely to be successful.

According to Dr. J. Taylor Hays of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, research over the past 25 years has shown that out of 100 people trying to quit smoking cold turkey, only about three to five of them will succeed for longer than six months. In other words, while some people can quit this way, at least 95% of people can’t.

Quitting cold turkey has such a low success rate due to the nature of nicotine addiction. Addiction undermines willpower, or the ability to control impulses through decision-making.

“When you understand the addictive nature of tobacco, it’s easier to understand why many can’t just quit,” wrote Michael Burke, program director at Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center in a blog post for the EX Program.

It’s important people have support when quitting any nicotine-containing product. Here are evidence-based resources to quit.

This is Quitting

This is Quitting from truth – the evidence-based, first-of-its-kind, free quit vaping program that is the largest in the country and the only one that has been validated by peer-reviewed research – has helped more than 700,000 young people on their journeys to quit vaping. A randomized clinical trial found that young adults aged 18-24 who used This is Quitting had nearly 40% higher odds of quitting compared to a control group. Results from another randomized clinical trial underscored that This is Quitting is not only successful in helping young people quit vaping, but also in ensuring that they don’t later use combustible tobacco products in place of e-cigarettes.

Teens and young adults can text “DITCHVAPE” to 88709 and get immediate help.

*You'll get daily texts full of advice and support from experts and other quitters just like you. Enter your mobile number to get started. By clicking SUBMIT, I agree I'm cool with receiving emails and texts from truth and agree to the Terms & Conditions. Text STOP to opt-out. Expect texts daily. No purchase necessary. Msg & Data Rates May Apply.


EX is a free, digital quit-tobacco plan and online community of thousands of current and former tobacco users developed with Mayo Clinic. It has helped more than 990,000 people develop the skills and confidence to successfully quit. Research has shown that following the EX quit plan quadruples a tobacco user’s chance of quitting. Parents of young people who vape can also get support and resources to help their teen or young adult child quit vaping through EX. Register for free at

EX Program

EX Program expands on EX to provide an enterprise-level tobacco cessation program designed for employers and health plans. The program delivers proven quit-tobacco treatment via interactive quitting tools and video, live chat, text message, email, and quit medication. It also includes personalized digital coaching and medication support from tobacco treatment specialists at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and Truth Initiative. EX Program is now helping more than 10.2 million adults around the nation, including through Medicaid plans in Nevada, Iowa, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Learn more at

TAGS: cessation