Intended for healthcare professionals


Effectiveness of smoking cessation initiatives

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:608

Efforts must take into account smokers' disillusionment with smoking and their delusions about stopping

  1. Martin J Jarvis, principal scientist, Cancer Research UK,
  2. Doreen McIntyre, chief executive, No Smoking Day,
  3. Clive Bates, director
  1. Health Behaviour Unit, University College London, Brook House, London WC1E 6BT
  2. London EC1N 7RJ
  3. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), London EC2A 4HW
  4. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Public Health, NH 08901, USA

    EDITOR—Our survey of a representative national sample of 893 smokers shows that most are disenchanted with smoking and claim that they would not smoke if they had their time again.1 Furthermore, most smokers overestimate the likelihood of stopping in the future and greatly underestimate how long it is likely to take.

    When asked: “If you had your time again would you start smoking?” 83% of current smokers replied that they would not (79% men, 87% women). Those aged 45 to 64 were most regretful, 90% saying that they would not smoke given their time again. This may reflect the mounting distress of smokers reaching the age at which the main smoking related diseases are becoming noticeable in themselves and among their peers. Given the supposedly carefree and rebellious image attributed to teenagers and young adults, young people were also very disenchanted with smoking: 78% of those aged 16 to 24 declared that they would not smoke given their time again.

    We also tested expectations about stopping …

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