Registrants for a smoking cessation program on the evening television news in the Chicago metropolitan area were compared with other smokers in the population to identify psychosocial factors that distinguished registrants. Telephone interviews were conducted before the intervention with random samples of 641 registrants and 2,398 smokers who regularly viewed the evening news. A nested series of three contrasts compared registrants with (1) smokers who regularly viewed the evening television news on any channel, (2) smokers who were regular viewers of the evening news on the intervention channel, and (3) smokers who were regular viewers of the evening news on the intervention channel and were planning to quit smoking. Registration was associated with a smoker's cognitive appraisal of the quitting process, with registrants distinguished by (1) recognition of a need to act (perceived severity of and susceptibility to lung cancer), (2) high outcome expectancies for quitting as an effective means for health promotion, (3) realistic expectations about the effort required to quit, (4) concern about the burden of lung cancer on significant others and related social influence factors, and (5) motivation to quit smoking. The findings suggest that the effectiveness of minimal-contact intervention programs may be enhanced by targeting smokers according to their psychosocial characteristics and by cognitively preparing smokers to attempt to quit.