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Pictures May Help People Stop Smoking

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SALFORD, England, Sep 11, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A new study indicates the simple act of looking at, or thinking of, pictures may be helpful in stopping cigarette cravings.

Researcher Jon May, an addiction specialist at Britain's University of Sheffield, told New Scientist: "Cravings start when we create a little picture in our mind of what we want. The images are what makes the cravings tantalizing. You can see in your head what you want, but you can't have it. We tried to interfere with that process."

The researchers asked 40 smokers to imagine either sounds, such as a phone ringing, or images, such as a game of tennis. Half the subjects smoked before the test while half abstained.

Subjects then rated their cravings. For abstainers who pictured visual images, cravings fell away after a minute, and they ended the test with cravings rated as low as those who had smoked a cigarette. Smoke-free people who thought of sounds had moderate cravings throughout the experiment.

May presented the research Thursday during the British Association Festival of Science in Salford, England.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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