Background: Effecting smoking cessation among adolescents provides an opportunity to reduce smoking levels among teens and among the adults those teens are soon to become. Better understanding of high school students' cessation behavior is needed to inform the development of effective strategies to support teen quitting.
Methods: Data from 1,210 established smokers among 6,427 12th graders from rural and suburban communities in Washington State were used to determine the frequency of a declared intention to quit, one or more quit attempts in the past year, ongoing quitting, and the attainment of long-term cessation. Logistic regression models investigated the association of these outcomes with the extent of peer smoking, age of becoming a regular smoker, sex, and grade point average (GPA).
Results: A serious intention to quit was declared by 67% of established smokers, and at least one attempt to quit was made in the past 12 months by 60%. However, only 21% of those who had attempted to quit in the past year were still abstaining at the time of the survey, and overall, merely 3% had achieved cessation beyond 12 months. The likelihood of success of quit attempts was strongly dependent on the extent of smoking among peers. Subjects who had become regular smokers at the youngest ages were more likely to undertake a quit attempt than those who started older. Females were less successful than males in attaining ongoing abstinence. Cessation behavior showed no clear association with students' GPA.
Conclusions: A high fraction of high school smokers want to quit, but are unsuccessful in doing so. Thus, there is a need for programs to provide cessation skills to young smokers already motivated to quit.