Gary A. Giovino of the University of Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions and colleagues surveyed 1,000 smokers age 25 and older nationwide. The researchers followed up with the respondents 14 months later.
"Other studies have taken a snapshot approach, asking smokers and non-smokers about their diets," Giovino said in a statement. "We knew from our previous work that people who were abstinent from cigarettes for less than six months consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who still smoked. What we didn't know was whether recent quitters increased their fruit and vegetable consumption or if smokers who ate more fruits and vegetables were more likely to quit."
The study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, found that smokers who consumed the most fruit and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free at least 30 days at follow-up to 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables.
Giovino said several explanations are possible, such as less nicotine dependence for people who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables or higher fiber consumption from fruit and vegetables make people feel fuller, or unlike some foods which are known to enhance the taste of tobacco -- meats, caffeinated beverages and alcohol -- fruit and vegetables do not enhance the taste of tobacco.