Can reduced smoking be a way for smokers not interested in quitting to actually quit?

Respiration. Mar-Apr 2005;72(2):216-20. doi: 10.1159/000084057.


The predominating way to stop smoking is to do it abruptly. At every given time, the large majority of smokers are not motivated or willing to try and give up. Some smokers are entirely happy with their smoking, a larger group would like to smoke less and a third group wants to quit. With the abrupt quitting message we are only addressing those wanting to quit. Maybe not even all, since some of them may have tried many times already and learned that they cannot quit abruptly. They may have given up on giving up. Some interesting results are given in recent studies that have recruited smokers not motivated to quit but interested in reducing their smoking. From nine randomized placebo-controlled trials where smokers were given behavioural support and pharmacological assistance, motivation to quit seemed to have increased, and in each trial, a proportion of these unmotivated smokers gave up smoking. It is suggested that for smokers unable or not interested in giving up abruptly, a softer and more gradual approach should be considered. Such an approach may bring new smokers into treatment, produce more people wanting to quit and improve public health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention