Characteristics of smokers who attempt to quit and of those who recently succeeded

Am J Prev Med. Nov-Dec 1994;10(6):327-34.


Although a high percentage of smokers attempt to quit each year, success rates are low. Thus, public health strategies must not only convince some smokers to attempt cessation, but also improve the success rate among other smokers already motivated to quit. Specific cessation strategies may be required for smokers in these two groups. This study compares sociodemographic and health behavior characteristics of smokers who have and have not attempted to quit and of those who recently succeeded. To determine whether these characteristics vary for men and women, we stratified analyses on gender. Data were obtained from random sample health surveys conducted 1981-1982 and 1983-1984 in two New England communities. Analyses include data on 2,086 respondents who reported smoking cigarettes in the previous year. Men and women were equally likely both to attempt cessation and to quit. Except for an inverse association with age, attempting to quit was not associated with sociodemographic variables. In men and women, attempts were associated with encouraging others to quit and attempting to increase exercise. Successful cessation attempts were associated with not living with a smoker in women; marital status, attempted weight loss, and increased age in men; and with efforts to increase exercise in both men and women. These characteristics could be useful in targeting smokers who attempt to quit, but fail. Improving the success rate in this group could greatly reduce smoking prevalence in the community.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Rhode Island
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Weight Loss


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution