Smokers tend to quit in groups, according to a new study.
One person who quits can have ripple effects across his or her entire social network, prompting others to kick the habit.
The New York Times offers this delightfully evocative explanation of how the process works:
As the investigators watched the smokers and their social networks, they saw what they said was a striking effect — smokers had formed little social clusters and, as the years went by, entire clusters of smokers were stopping en masse. So were clusters of clusters that were only loosely connected.
Study co-author Dr. Nicholas Christakis described watching the vanishing clusters as like lying on your back in a field, looking up at stars that were burning out. “It’s not like one little star turning off at a time,” he said. “Whole constellations are blinking off at once.”