Perceptions of smoking-related risk and worry among dual-smoker couples

Nicotine Tob Res. 2013 Mar;15(3):734-8. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nts210. Epub 2012 Sep 18.


Introduction: Quit rates are lower and relapse rates are higher for people in close relationships with a partner who smokes. Although desire to quit is often related to health concerns for one's self, much less is known about psychosocial factors associated with quitting in dual-smoker couples. This study investigated relations among beliefs about smoking and desire to quit from both partners' perspectives.

Methods: We recruited 63 couples in which both partners smoke daily. Participants were aged 21-67 (M = 43.0, SD = 11.3) and had been smoking for 4-51 years (M = 22.9, SD = 11.3).

Results: Individuals' desire to quit related to worry about partner's health (r = .29, p < .01), perceived risk of partner getting a disease if the partner continues to smoke (r = .39, p < .001), and belief that own smoking has caused partner physical harm (r = .38, p < .001). Within couples, partners were modestly concordant with regard to worry about harm of smoking for oneself (r = .30, p < .05) and partner (r = .30, p < .05), perceived risk of disease for oneself (r = .26, p < .05) and partner (r = .24, p < .05), and desire that partner quit (r = .34, p < .01). Participants had an extremely strong desire (78% = 7 on 1-7 scale) for their partner's help if they attempt to quit.

Conclusions: Dual-smoker couples are at heightened health risks due to exposure to passive smoke and their own smoking. Partners' perceived risk and worry about the harms of smoking could be important leverage points for smoking cessation efforts. Interventions can be informed by considering both partners' beliefs and by helping partners develop plans for quitting and supporting each other.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Perception
  • Risk
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution