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Does smoking reduction make smokers happier? Evidence from a cross-sectional survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2013

Emma Beard*
UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University College London, WC1E 6BT, UK
Jamie Brown
UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University College London, WC1E 6BT, UK
Robert West
UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, University College London, WC1E 6BT, UK
Correspondence to: Emma Beard, Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, WC1E 6BP. Email: Tel: 02031 083179


Objectives: Stopping smoking leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction. This raises the question as to whether harm reduction, i.e. smoking reduction (SR) and the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for SR, might lead to a similar benefit. This is of importance, given that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence in the UK is due to release guidance on harm reduction in 2013.

Design: Data were collected from 1,532 smokers involved in the Smoking Toolkit Study.

Method: Participants were asked if they were cutting down and if they were using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). Smokers also rated happiness and life satisfaction.

Results: There was no evidence of an association between SR or use of NRT for SR and either reported ‘happiness’ or ‘life satisfaction’. Nor was there an association between measures of ‘happiness’ or ‘life satisfaction’ and cigarette consumption.

Conclusion: It appears that SR is not associated with mental health benefits. This suggests that complete cessation may be necessary for benefits to be incurred. Prospective studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

Copyright © The Author(s), published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Australian Academic Press Pty Ltd 2013 

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