Rising cost of cigarettes and increased awareness over health risks driving more smokers to make quit attempt

WASHINGTON — New results from a national online public opinion poll of Americans 18 and older show that 34% of smokers plan to quit smoking as a New Year’s resolution in 2013, as compared to only 18% who reported that quitting smoking was a New Year’s resolution in 2012. Increasing costs of cigarettes (67%) and concerns about the health risks associated with smoking (58%) were two of the key factors motivating smokers to contemplate quitting as a resolution for 2013.

The poll, conducted on behalf of Legacy, a national tobacco education foundation, found that on average, those who committed to quit in 2012 remained smoke free for just about a month. For more than half (59%) of those quitters, it was the longest they had ever gone without a cigarette since they started smoking.

“Research has shown that most smokers who quit on Jan. 1 struggle to stay quit as the days and weeks go on,” stated Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of Legacy. “Many smokers may have begun their New Year’s quit attempt and have already relapsed and that’s okay. We need to encourage them to build a quit plan and then try to quit again. On average, research has shown that smokers make up to 6-9 attempts before they finally quit for good, which is why it is so important to remind smokers to quit with support and methods that have proven success.”

While it is positive news that more of the surveyed smokers are planning to quit in 2013 than in 2012, data reveals that many of them are still overlooking resources and practices that can lead to successful quitting.

For example, as many as 53% of the smokers surveyed have not talked about quitting smoking with their healthcare providers in the last 12 months. Using over-the-counter and prescription medications — both nicotine replacement therapies and non-nicotine prescription medications — can improve a smoker’s chance of quitting.

Of those surveyed, only 39% used a non-prescription product like gums, lozenges or patches, during their last quit attempt. Even fewer, 13%, used a prescription medication to help them quit during this most recent attempt.

“The fact that more than half of smokers are still not speaking with their HCPs about quitting shows that we have a significant missed opportunity on our hands. Healthcare providers play a critical role in reaching smokers with support and resources for quitting,” Healton said.

Among smokers who did speak with their HCPs about quitting in the last 12 months, nearly four in ten believe that the discussion motivated them to quit (38%) or helped them to take the next step towards quitting (35%). “Overcoming the initial barrier of speaking with a primary care physician, pharmacist or dentist is critical. Once the conversation does get going, the outcomes can be extremely helpful to bolstering the quit attempts and ensuring the results are long-lasting,” Healton said.

Among the 45% of smokers surveyed who did speak with their HCP about quitting smoking, many reported that during conversations in the last 12 months, their HCP commonly recommended nicotine replacement products (49%) and prescription medications (49%) to help them quit. However, most have yet to adopt recommended treatments. 

Nearly 64% of those who tried to quit in the past year prepared for only a week ahead of time, at most. Giving up smoking is very difficult; having a plan and a support network including a healthcare provider and tools lined up in advance can help considerably. The poll showed that 69% of smokers are thinking about quitting within the next year, with a majority, 79%, of this group either in the process of quitting already or planning to do so within the next six months.

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