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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Characteristics of smokers who have never tried to quit: evidence from the British Opinions and Lifestyle Survey

Aarohi Sharma1 and Lisa Szatkowski2*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Clinical Sciences Building, Nottingham City Hospital, NG5 1 PB Nottingham, UK

2 Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham, Clinical Sciences Building, Nottingham City Hospital, NG5 1 PB Nottingham, UK

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:346  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-346

Published: 11 April 2014

Abstract

Background

An understanding of the characteristics of smokers who have never tried to quit may be useful to help identify and target these individuals and encourage them to attempt to give up smoking. Using national survey data we investigated variables associated with smokers reporting never having tried to quit.

Methods

Using data from the 2007 and 2009 UK Office for National Statistics Opinions and Lifestyle Survey we identified all self-reported current smokers aged 16+. The primary outcome was response to the question ‘have you ever tried to quit smoking?’ Univariable and multivariable logistic regression quantified the association between this outcome and several potential explanatory variables, including age, sex, socioeconomic status, health status, smoking behaviour, and knowledge of the dangers of smoking.

Results

Desire to quit was the most significant independent predictor of whether a smoker reported never having tried to quit. Smokers who reported that their health was good or very good were more likely to report never having tried to quit than those whose health was fair, bad or very bad (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.05-2.41). Smokers who reported that no family members, friends or colleagues had been trying to get them to quit smoking in the last year were more likely to report never having tried to quit than those who reported that someone was trying to persuade them (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.09-2.28). Smokers who hadn’t received any cessation advice from a health professional in the last five years which they considered to be helpful were also more likely to report never having tried to quit.

Conclusions

Smokers who do not want to quit, who are in good health, whose friends and family are not trying to get them to quit, and who do not report receiving helpful advice to quit from a health professional, are more likely to report never having tried to quit.