Motives for smoking and their correlates in clients attending Stop Smoking treatment services

Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 May;10(5):843-50. doi: 10.1080/14622200802027248.


This study investigated smokers' ratings of putative smoking motives and how these relate to smoking patterns, withdrawal symptoms, and short-term abstinence in clients attending smokers' clinics. Data were collected from 2,727 clients from two London Stop Smoking Services that offered behavioral support combined with pharmacotherapy. On a scale of 1 to 5, stress relief (M = 3.9), boredom relief (3.7), and enjoyment (3.6) were rated highest. Uses as an aid to concentration (2.9), for relief of withdrawal discomfort (2.8), and as an aid to socialization (2.8) received moderate ratings. Weight control was rated low (2.0). These ratings were found to be largely independent of each other. Ratings of enjoyment, boredom relief, improvement in concentration, and relief of withdrawal discomfort were positively correlated with daily cigarette consumption (p<.001). Ratings of smoking for withdrawal relief, enjoyment, improvement in concentration, stress relief, and boredom relief were positively correlated with nicotine dependence as measured by the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (p<.001). Strength of urges to smoke and time spent with urges to smoke in the first week of abstinence were positively correlated with smoking for withdrawal relief, to stay alert, to improve concentration, and with enjoyment of smoking (p<.01). Relapse to smoking within 4 weeks was not associated with ratings of any of the smoking motives, including enjoyment. Although correlated with a measure of dependence, no strong connection appears to exist between relapse and any of the smoking motives, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying nicotine dependence lie at a deeper level, outside the ability of smokers to be introspective regarding their motivations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking / therapy
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy


  • Nicotine