Send to

Choose Destination
Prev Med. 1992 May;21(3):311-9.

Characteristics of heavy smokers.

Author information

Behavioural Epidemiology Unit, South Australian Health Commission, Rundle Mall.



Heavy smokers (those who smoke greater than or equal to 25 or more cigarettes a day) are a subgroup who place themselves and others at risk for harmful health consequences and also are those least likely to achieve cessation. Despite this, heavy smokers are not well described as a segment of the smoking population.


We used representative population data on 1,048 smokers to examine differences between heavy and lighter smokers (less than or equal to 24 cigarettes per day).


Heavy smokers constituted 26.7% of all cigarette smokers. Compared with lighter smokers, heavy smokers were significantly more likely to be male, to be age 30 years or older, to smoke their first cigarette of the day within 30 min of waking, to perceive quitting as very difficult, to have little confidence in their ability to quit, to be less likely to report variation in their rate of smoking between work and leisure days, and to be less likely to be employed.


Public health strategies which may particularly assist heavy smokers include stronger restrictions on smoking in public places, nicotine replacement therapies, and the use of segmentation research to more carefully target campaign messages to influence quit attempts and confidence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center