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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

Report Reveals Characteristics of People Who Quit

Monday, May 31, 2010  
Many effective, evidence-based smoking cessation options are available such as medications, counseling, telephone help lines, and self-help groups. However, even with treatments and services, many people continue to smoke. Understanding the characteristics of those people who are able to quit is important to improving and targeting smoking cessation and outreach efforts.

A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report examines smoking cessation rates among individuals who were able to quit during the past year. These were individuals who had smoked on a daily basis at some time in their lives and who smoked any cigarettes during the 13 to 24 months prior to the survey. The survey includes a series of questions about the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Respondents (aged 12 or older) are asked whether they ever smoked all or part of a cigarette, when they last smoked a cigarette, and whether they ever smoked cigarettes on a daily basis.

The findings show that:
  • Among people who smoked cigarettes 13 to 24 months prior to the survey, 4.1 percent (2.2 million persons) had successfully stopped smoking by the next year (i.e., did not smoke in the year prior to the survey interview).
  • Rates of past year smoking cessation did not vary by race/ethnicity, but differences were found for other sociodemographic characteristics.
  • The past year smoking cessation rate was higher among females than males, higher among adults aged 26 to 34 than other age groups, and increased with increasing levels of education and income.
  • Cessation rates were also higher among married persons than among persons who were never married and those who were divorced or separated.
The report also reveals a variation in smoking cessation rates across states. This is most likely due to variations in state policies on smoking, such as smoke-free laws, tobacco taxes, and the level of coverage of smoking cessation treatment in Medicaid programs, state employee health plans, and private insurance regulations. Past year smoking cessation rates ranged from a high of 6.8 percent in Vermont to a low of 1.8 percent in South Carolina.

Despite the well-known health risks of smoking and the availability of cessation treatment and services, many people are unable to quit. In this study, only 1 in 25 people who had been smokers during the year before last were found to have stopped in the next 12 months. The findings in this report suggest the need for targeted efforts, particularly for the populations of smokers where cessation rates were lower, on the availability and effectiveness of smoking cessation services.

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Source: Redistributed courtesy of National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative (NTCC)

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