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Smoking cessation attempts among adolescent smokers: a systematic review of prevalence studies
  1. Christina Bancej1,
  2. Jennifer O’Loughlin2,
  3. Robert W Platt1,
  4. Gilles Paradis1,
  5. André Gervais3
  1. 1
    McGill University Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, Montreal, Canada
  2. 2
    University of Montreal Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Montreal, Canada
  3. 3
    Direction de santé publique de Montréal. Agence de santé et de services sociaux, Montreal, Canada
  1. Dr Jennifer O’Loughlin, Centre de recherche CHUM, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montreal, 3875 Saint Urbain, 1st Floor, Montreal, Quebec, H2W 1V1, Canada; jennifer.oloughlin{at}


Objective: To synthesise estimates of the prevalence of cessation attempts among adolescent smokers generally, and according to age and level of cigarette consumption.

Data sources: PubMed, ERIC, and PsychInfo databases and Internet searches of central data collection agencies.

Study selection: National population-based studies published in English between 1990 and 2005 reporting the prevalence, frequency and/or duration of cessation attempts among smokers aged ⩾10 to <20 years.

Data extraction: Five reviewers determined inclusion criteria for full-text reports. One reviewer extracted data on the design, population characteristics and results from the reports.

Data synthesis: In total, 52 studies conformed to the inclusion criteria. The marked heterogeneity that characterised the study populations and survey questions precluded a meta-analysis. Among adolescent current smokers, the median 6-month, 12-month and lifetime cessation attempt prevalence was 58% (range: 22–73%), 68% (range 43–92%) and 71% (range 28–84%), respectively. More than half had made multiple attempts. Among smokers who had attempted cessation, the median prevalence of relapse was 34, 56, 89 and 92% within 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year, respectively, following the longest attempt. Younger (age<16 years) and non-daily smokers experienced a similar or higher prevalence of cessation attempts compared with older (age ⩾16 years) or daily smokers. Moreover, the prevalence of relapse by 6 months following the longest cessation attempt was similar across age and smoking frequency.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of cessation attempts and relapse among adolescent smokers extends to young adolescents and non-daily smokers. Cessation surveillance, research and program development should be more inclusive of these subgroups.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.