How You Smoke Could Affect You More Than How Much

Reporter:  Shannon Samson
Web Producer:  Amber Griswold
If you smoke and just can't seem to quit, a new study suggests it's not how many cigarettes you smoke but how you smoke them. 
Beth Rivers has smoked for 20 years. She has tried everything from quitting cold turkey to scaling back on the number of cigarettes she smokes each day. But Beth noticed that when she smoked fewer cigarettes, she smoked them differently.
Beth Rivers explains, "I would smoke it almost to the butt so that I could get everything out of it."
Beth is not alone, researchers at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital used a machine to study women while they smoked. They found that even though they smoked fewer cigarettes, they often over-compensated when they did smoke.
Karen Ahijevych, Ph.D. at James Cancer Hospital explains, "They tend to modify either the amount of time they hold the breath in their lungs or the amount of time they drew on the cigarette or the size of the puff that they took."
Making those changes isn't helping the smoker at all. In fact, researchers found that when the women inhaled deeper and held it longer, their lungs retained more of a nicotine by-product known as cotinine and produced more carbon monoxide.
Dr. Ahijevych, "By cutting back, the smoker's almost fooling themselves into thinking they're doing something positive, when in fact they're in essence, delaying the process of quitting."
Researchers say your body will find a way to get the nicotine it craves one way or another. And just because you smoke less often, doesn't mean you're less likely to pay the price with your health.
Researchers say if smokers are serious about quitting, they should get rid of the cigarettes and use nicotine replacement therapy. Studies show the success rate is two to three times greater than going cold turkey.