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What characterises smokers who quit without using help? A study of users and non-users of cessation support among successful ex-smokers
  1. Stine Schou Mikkelsen1,
  2. Peter Dalum2,
  3. Lise Skrubbeltrang Skov-Ettrup1,
  4. Janne S Tolstrup1
  1. 1Centre for Intervention Research, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Departement of Cancer Prevention and Documentation, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Stine Schou Mikkelsen, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, 2nd floor, Copenhagen K 1353, Denmark; smik{at}


Background A variety of smoking cessation aids are available; however, the majority of smokers quit unaided. We know little of the differences between users and non-users of cessation support.

Methods A cross-sectional study based on the Danish Health Examination Survey (DANHES) conducted in 2007–2008. In all, 6445 persons reporting quitting successfully within the last 5 years were included in analyses. Users and non-users of cessation aid (medical or behavioural support) were compared with regards to age, education, years smoked, tobacco amount, tobacco type and smoking-related disease using logistic regression analysis.

Results Quitting unaided was reported by 63%. Adjusted analyses showed that men were more likely to quit unaided than women, and younger compared with older were more likely to quit unaided (eg, OR among women age 45–59 versus age 14–29 were 0.18, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.20). Additionally, those who had smoked for 15 years or more also had lower odds of quitting unaided. Smoking 15 or more grams of tobacco daily was inversely associated with quitting unaided (eg, OR among men were 0.38, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.46).

Conclusions Quitting smoking without the use of formalised aid was the most common cessation approach. Quitting unaided was more likely among men, younger age groups, those with a shorter history of smoking and those who were light smokers. These results indicate that awareness of unaided cessation in general and to those for whom it is especially relevant should be increased. This could lead to a more efficient use of resources for cessation support.

  • Cessation
  • Prevention
  • Priority/special populations

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