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Nicotine Tob Res. 2013 Nov;15(11):1883-91. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt074. Epub 2013 Jun 18.

Early lapses in a cessation attempt: lapse contexts, cessation success, and predictors of early lapse.

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Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, University of Wisconsin-Madison;



The great majority of smokers relapse when they make quit attempts. Therefore, understanding the process of relapse may guide the development of more effective smoking cessation or relapse prevention treatments. The goal of this research is to extend our understanding of the context of initial lapses that occur within 8 weeks of quitting by using more comprehensive assessments of context, a contemporary sample, and sophisticated analytic techniques.


Participants from a randomized controlled smoking cessation trial completed baseline assessments of demographics and tobacco dependence, a daily smoking calendar to determine latency to lapse and relapse (7 consecutive days of smoking), and an assessment of initial lapse context (affect, location, activity, interpersonal, smoke exposure, and cigarette availability). Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to analyze the 6 early lapse (within the first 8 weeks; N = 551) context dimensions; logistic regression and Cox regression were used to relate context to cessation outcomes.


LCA revealed 5 distinct initial lapse context classes (talking, with friends, angry; social; alone; with spouse, angry; and with smoking spouse) that were differentially related to cessation outcome. The easy availability of cigarettes characterized almost 75% of lapses, but being with friends, drinking, and not being at home were associated with a lower likelihood of progression to relapse.


Early lapsing is highly related to ultimate relapse, and lapsing in frequently experienced contexts seemed most strongly linked with progression to full relapse.

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