For years the only effective method the world has had to treat addiction to nicotine has been watching that episode of the 80s sitcom Small Wonder where the child robot VICI tries a cigarette and blows smoke out her ears. It’s a case where the cure may be worse than the disease.

Fortunately, there might be a safer alternative. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Brown University are looking at whether smells can help curb cravings.

Here’s how the experiment worked: they brought in smokers who hadn’t had a cigarette for at least eight hours, and had them smell something. Some got pleasant aromas like chocolate or lemon, some got the smell of tobacco and some got no added scent at all.

Then they had to light a cigarette and hold it, while they rated their cravings over a period of time.

While all of them reported their urge to smoke went down after inhaling the container full of scents, the ones who got pleasant smells said their urge to smoke had gone down the most.

The researchers don’t know why the scents seemed to head off cravings, so it doesn’t mean you can rush out and buy a bunch of candles for the smokers in your life. But if it’ll save one person from having to watch that episode of “Small Wonder” – then maybe just maybe it’ll be worth it.

Also: if you’ve got about two minutes, there’s a really neat new short film you might enjoy called NYC Textures. Director Ynon Lan took over a thousand still images of sidewalks, sides of buildings, subway tiles, grass and more. it’s a unique perspective on what you actually see when you move through New York City.

Pleasant Olfactory Cues Can Reduce Cigarette Craving (Journal of Abnormal Psychology via

NYC Textures (Ynon Lan)

Photo by kuhnmi via Flickr/Creative Commons