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Addiction. 2009 Nov;104(11):1901-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02647.x. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Unplanned attempts to quit smoking: missed opportunities for health promotion?

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UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.



To investigate the occurrence, determinants and reported success of unplanned and planned attempts to quit smoking, and sources of support used in these attempts.


Cross-sectional questionnaire survey of 3512 current and ex-smokers.


Twenty-four general practices in Nottinghamshire, UK.


Individuals who reported making a quit attempt within the last 6 months.


Occurrence, triggers for, support used and success of planned and unplanned quit attempts.


A total of 1805 (51.4%) participants returned completed questionnaires, reporting 394 quit attempts made within the previous 6 months of which 37% were unplanned. Males were significantly more likely to make an unplanned quit attempt [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04-2.46], but the occurrence of unplanned quit attempts did not differ significantly by socio-economic group or amount smoked. The most common triggers for unplanned quit attempts were advice from a general practitioner or health professional (27.9%) and health problems (24.5%). 5.4% and 4.1% of unplanned quit attempts used National Health Service cessation services on a one to one and group basis, respectively, and more than half (51.7%) were made without any support. Nevertheless, unplanned attempts were more likely to be reported to be successful (adjusted OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.23-3.27, P < 0.01).


Unplanned quit attempts are common among smokers in all socio-demographic groups, are triggered commonly by advice from a health professional and are more likely to succeed; however, the majority of these unplanned attempts are unsupported. It is important to develop methods of providing behavioural and/or pharmacological support for these attempts, and determine whether these increase cessation rates still further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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