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Quitting Without Reporting Having Tried: Findings From a National Survey

  • Jamie Brown (a1), Eleni Vangeli (a1), Jennifer A. Fidler (a1), Tobias Raupach (a1) (a2) and Robert West (a1) (a3)...

Background: It is assumed that smokers rarely quit without ‘attempting’ to do so but the assumption does not appear to have been adequately tested. This study assessed the prevalence of reporting having stopped without reporting a quit attempt and the reasons given for this discrepancy.

Methods: Data were collected from ex-smokers who said they had quit within the last 12 months during nationally representative household surveys conducted monthly between 2006–12.

Results: Of the 1,892 ex-smokers who said that they had quit within the last 12 months, 13.9% (95%CI = 12.4%–15.5%) reported having made no serious quit attempts in that period. In a sub-group of 24 smokers who were asked why they had reported stopping without also reporting an attempt, nine cited inconsistency over timing; three reported stopping without attempting to do so; four did not consider it an ‘attempt’ because they had succeeded; and six had not ruled out the occasional cigarette in the future.

Conclusions: A substantial minority of people who report having stopped in the past year may fail to report a corresponding quit attempt. However, quitting smoking without considering that one has tried appears to be rare. Instead, the most common reason for the discrepancy is inconsistent reporting of the timing of quit attempts.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Jamie Brown, Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK E-mail:
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Journal of Smoking Cessation
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