OBJECTIVE: To examine reasons for quitting smoking, methods used in quitting, reasons for continuing smoking and potential aids to quitting in the population of Ontario, Canada. DESIGN: Two population-based, telephone interview surveys, conducted by random-digit dialing. SUBJECTS: Adults aged 18 years of age and older in 1983 (n = 1383) and 1991 (n = 1421). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Information was obtained from former smokers on why and how they quit smoking, and from continuing smokers on why they smoked and what might help them quit. RESULTS: The proportion of current smokers in the population decreased from 35.5% in 1983 to 27.2% in 1991. In both surveys, former smokers cited a variety of reasons for quitting, including personal health concerns, social and environmental factors, personal attitude factors, cost, and health education messages. Responses concerning the most important reason also revealed a range of factors; "advice of a physician" was not prominent among them. When questioned about methods used in quitting, most former smokers in both surveys responded that they "just decided to quit". Very few reported using other aids such as cessation clinics or nicotine gum. More smokers in 1991 than in 1983 reported that they continued smoking for enjoyment, to satisfy a craving or addiction, and for relaxation. With regard to what might help them quit, continuing smokers in both surveys cited a wide variety of potential aids, including information on harmful effects, more restrictions on smoking and on sales, cessation clinics, programmes on radio/TV, and higher taxes. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support a multifaceted approach to tobacco control.
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