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Crushing Virtual Cigarettes to Squish Addiction

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Can destroying cyber-cigarettes help smokers quit? Surprisingly, a new study says yes.

The Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 4 that Canadian researchers found that 15 percent of smokers enrolled in a stop-smoking support group were able to quit after 12 weeks when their therapy included crushing cigarettes in a virtual-reality simulation. The quit rate was just 2 percent among a control group that was only allowed to squeeze balls in the simulation.

At six months post-treatment, 39 percent of the 91 smokers who had crushed cigarettes said they hadn't smoked in the past week, compared to 20 percent of the ball-grasping group.

The study authors, from the GRAP Occupational Psychology Clinic and the University of Quebec, said that the cigarette-crushing exercise may help smokers develop a sense of self-efficacy and aid in motivation and learning.

The study was published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior.

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