Use of smoking-cessation treatments in the United States

Am J Prev Med. 2008 Feb;34(2):102-11. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.033.


Background: Health promotion efforts encourage smokers to quit and to use effective cessation treatments. Randomized controlled trials demonstrate that medications and behavioral treatments improve cessation rates, but retrospective surveys have been inconsistent. This study assessed frequency of quit attempts, use of treatments for cessation, and abstinence rates among treatment users and non-users.

Methods: Data were analyzed from the 2003 Tobacco Use Special Cessation Supplement to the Current Population Survey. Participants included 29,537 U.S. smokers aged > or =18 years who smoked daily 12 months before the survey. Outcome measures included past-year quit attempts; use of behavioral, pharmacologic, and alternative treatments; receipt of social support; and abstinence for > or =4 weeks at time of survey.

Results: Approximately 43.5% of smokers reported a quit attempt in the preceding year: 64.2% of attempters used no cessation treatments; 8.8% used behavioral treatment; 32.2% used medication; and 14.1% used more than one treatment. Social support was reported to have been received by 24.1%. More nicotine-dependent smokers were more likely to use medications (OR=3.58; 95% CI=3.04-4.20). At the time of the survey, 19.3% of attempters were abstinent > or =4 weeks. Smokers who sought treatment were less likely to be abstinent (OR=0.75; 95% CI=0.67-0.84), and those who sought multiple treatments were even less likely to be abstinent.

Conclusions: Many U.S. smokers make quit attempts, but most do not use behavioral or pharmacologic treatments. More nicotine-dependent smokers were more likely to seek treatment. Smokers who sought treatment were less likely to report abstinence, probably due to biased self-selection and recall. Retrospective survey data are not well-suited to assess the effectiveness of treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • United States