Background: In recent years many longitudinal studies have examined the predictors of smoking acquisition. However, only a few studies have focused on the precursors of smoking cessation. The current study is one of the first concentrating on longitudinal predictors of young people's smoking cessation.
Methods: Subjects were 215 smokers ages 14-15 years who were reinterviewed 3 years later. These smokers were allocated to four groups based on their motivation to quit and actual quitting behavior at the last wave. Independent variables were smoking-specific cognitions, social influences, and aspects of smoking habits.
Results: Univariate comparisons between the four groups showed that those with a positive attitude toward smoking and lower self-efficacy were less likely to be motivated to quit 3 years later. No long-term effects of environmental influences were found. Aspects of smoking habits, such as intensity and frequency of smoking, and the context of cigarette use affected the motivation to quit. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine differences in predictors between the groups in more detail. These analyses revealed that differences mainly in attitudes and self-efficacy affected whether subjects were absolutely not motivated to quit or had actually quit 3 years later. Differences in smoking behavior affected the allocation to the more closely related groups (e.g., preparing versus quitting).
Conclusions: Adolescents' motivation to quit is affected by smoking-related cognitions and habitual factors. More research is needed to decide whether the relation between intensity and frequency of smoking and the likelihood to quit later on should be interpreted in terms of differences in smoking initiation or in terms of preparation to quit.