Background: This study compared young adult nonsmokers (n = 1216), light smokers (n = 406), and regular smokers (n = 360) on demographic, psychosocial, and behavioral characteristics, as well as identified predictors of attempted quitting and 6-month cessation among regular smokers.
Method: Participants were recruited from middle schools in 1985 (age 13) and assessed repeatedly through 2001 (age 29). Mail surveys were used to obtain information on smoking status and hypothesized predictors of cessation at age 23, and quit attempts and cessation occurring between ages 23-39 among regular smokers. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify predictors of quit attempts and 6-month cessation.
Results: Among initial smokers, 76% attempted to quit and 26% quit for 6 months or longer between ages 23-29. Higher rates of substance use, illegal activity, poor mental health, and victimization were found among regular smokers than nonsmokers and lighter smokers at age 23. However, multivariate analyses indicated that these problems were less relevant to quitting than social transitions and interpersonal factors, demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity), and health status.
Conclusions: Different risk and protective factors are relevant to understanding why smokers attempt to quit versus why they are able to quit for 6 months or longer. We discuss implications of these findings for cessation interventions and programs for young adults.