Failure to report attempts to quit smoking

Addict Behav. 2010 Oct;35(10):900-4. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.06.009. Epub 2010 Jun 10.


Introduction: Accurately assessing quit attempt history is important to develop population estimates of cessation and to increase our understanding of smoking trajectories. Thus, the current study investigated failure to report quit attempts as a function of length of quit attempt by time since quit attempt over the past year.

Methods: The present study used data from the Smoking Toolkit Study, a series of population-based surveys of smokers and recent ex-smokers in England aged 16 years and older. Among the 11,772 smokers identified at baseline (24.4% of the total sample), this study focused on the 4234 participants (36.0% of current smokers) who reported between one and three quit attempts in the past year.

Results: There was a strong trend for quit attempts that lasted for shorter periods of time to fail to be reported. After three months, 90.1% of those lasting less than one day, 63.7% of those lasting between a day a one week, and 38.9% of those lasting between one week and one month failed to be reported.

Conclusion: A large proportion of unsuccessful quit attempts fail to be reported, particularly if they only last a short time or occurred longer ago. Therefore, population estimates of quit attempts based on retrospective data may be considerable underestimates and estimates of the success of quit attempts may be overestimates. Future research is needed to establish whether there is differential reporting of quit attempts as a function of features of attempts such as use of cessation aids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Young Adult