Background: 'Enjoyment' and 'addiction' have been proposed as opposing reasons why people continue to smoke despite the manifest dangers. This study examined the roles of these as barriers to smoking cessation.
Methods: 2257 smokers taking part in a national household survey completed postal-follow-up questionnaires 6 months later. Enjoyment of smoking was measured at baseline as was strength of urges to smoke during a normal smoking day as a subjective marker of addiction. Smoking status, quit attempts and quit success were assessed at follow-up. Data on age, sex, social grade and method of cessation support used were also collected. Associations between baseline measures and smoking outcomes were assessed using logistic regression.
Results: Only enjoyment of smoking predicted whether a quit attempt was made (OR=0.70, p<0.001, 95% CI=0.62-0.78) and only strength of urges to smoke predicted whether a quit attempt was successful (OR=0.70, p<0.001, 95% CI=0.57-0.87). This pattern of results remained when controlling for sociodemographic factors and method of support used.
Conclusions: Both enjoyment of smoking and strength of urges to smoke are important in the smoking cessation process, but in different ways. Interventions to promote cessation need to address both in order to maximise the rate of quit attempts and their chances of success.
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