Objective: To assess the prevalence of motivation and behaviours relating to smoking cessation and attempts at harm minimization and the stability of these over a 1-year period; to identify demographic, social, behavioural and psychological predictors of attempts to stop smoking and the success of these attempts.
Design: Face-to-face interviews were carried out with a national sample of UK smokers in April/May 1996 with follow-up 1 year later.
Subjects: The original response rate was 61% (1478 of 1911 adult smokers), and of these 1012 were followed-up 1 year later (68% of those who were originally contactable).
Results: Thirty-one per cent of smokers reported making at least one quit attempt during the follow-up period and 17% made a quit attempt in the first 9 months of that period. Of these 29% were still not smoking at least 3 months later. Fifty-one per cent of smokers had tried to cut down in the year leading up to the first survey. There was a fair degree of consistency over time in individual smokers' desires and intentions to stop smoking across both surveys and in the incidence of quit attempts and attempts to cut down. Beliefs about the effects of smoking on future health and having a partner who disliked their smoking were positively associated with making a quit attempt at follow-up while reporting enjoying smoking at baseline was negatively associated with making a quit attempt at follow-up. Time to first cigarette of the day and age of starting smoking were positively associated with success of quit attempts.
Conclusions: Motivation and behaviours relating to smoking cessation are prevalent and fairly stable over time. Different factors appear to be related to attempts to stop and the success of those attempts. Interventions to increase smoking cessation in the population should take account of this.