The urge to smoke is contagious, but quitting apparently is, too. A team of researchers who showed that obesity can spread person-to-person has found a similar pattern with smoking cessation: A smoker is more likely to kick the habit if a spouse, friend, co-worker or sibling did. What's more, smokers tend to quit in groups and those who don't stop puffing increasingly find themselves pushed to the edge of their social circles, the researchers found.
"Your smoking behavior depends upon not just the smoking behavior of the people you know, but also the people who they know" and so on, said Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the new report. The findings back up previous studies showing that peer influence plays a key role in people's decision to stop lighting up and provide evidence that the "buddy system" used by smoking cessation, weight loss and alcoholism programs to change addictive behavior works.
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