Background: Nicotine dependence might function as a barrier to smoking cessation. Therefore, the goal was to determine whether single symptoms of nicotine dependence are related to the number of quit attempts and smoking status.
Methods: In a random population sample of 4075 women and men aged 18-64, drawn from 47 German communities, data about nicotine dependence according to the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and according to the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND), and data on quit attempts and quitting were collected at baseline with an interview and 30 months later with a questionnaire.
Results: Nicotine dependence, in particular withdrawal, was related to a high number of quit attempts and to remaining a current smoker. The urgent need for tobacco, craving for nicotine, smoking to avoid withdrawal, and the expectation of increased appetite or weight gain correctly classified smoking status in 72.1% of individuals through logistic regression analysis.
Conclusions: Nicotine dependence is a strong factor that may partly explain the failure of a subpopulation of smokers to live abstinent. Population-based interventions should include measures of tobacco control and brief interventions carried out, for example, by experts in health care.