Methods used to quit smoking in the United States. Do cessation programs help?

JAMA. 1990 May;263(20):2760-5.


Using data from the 1986 Adult Use of Tobacco Survey, we analyzed smoking-cessation methods used by adult smokers in the United States who tried to quit. About 90% of successful quitters and 80% of unsuccessful quitters used individual methods of smoking cessation rather than organized programs. Most of these smokers who quit on their own used a "cold turkey" approach. Multivariate analysis showed that women, middle-aged persons, more educated persons, persons who had made more quit-smoking attempts, and, particularly, heavier smokers were most likely to use a cessation program. Daily cigarette consumption, however, did not predict whether persons would succeed or fail during their attempts to quit smoking. Rather, the cessation method used was the strongest predictor of success. Among smokers who had attempted cessation within the previous 10 years, 47.5% of persons who tried to quit on their own were successful whereas only 23.6% of persons who used cessation programs succeeded. We conclude that cessation programs serve a small, but important, population of smokers that includes heavier smokers, those most at risk for tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • United States