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PERSONAL HEALTH : Ah, That First Puff of the Day

January 27, 1994|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Never mind those old movies where no one can resist that after-sex smoke. Among hard-core puffers, the hands-down favorites are the after-dinner cigarette or the first one of the day, according to a new survey.

UCLA researcher Dr. Murray Jarvik and his colleagues interviewed more than 5,000 Bay Area smokers, asking which cigarette of the day they would most miss. Forty-four percent said the after-dinner cigarette; 33% said the first puff of the day.

The after-romance cigarette? It ranked No. 15 behind the last cigarette of the day, the cigarette with coffee or alcohol, and those puffed during commute time or phone conversations.

Some respondents quit smoking for 24 hours and kept track of their withdrawal symptoms. The more nicotine-dependent, the more likely a smoker was to rate the first cigarette of the day as most important.

Smokers trying to quit or cut down might not realize how important certain cigarettes have become, says Jarvik, whose study was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

"Be prepared," he advises. "Have a coping mechanism ready." One option: "Get some nicotine chewing gum. It's difficult to smoke while chewing it."

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