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Explaining the social gradient in smoking cessation: It’s not in the trying, but in the succeeding.
  1. Daniel Kotz1,
  2. Robert West2
  1. 1 Maastricht University Medical Centre, Netherlands;
  2. 2 University College London, United Kingdom
  1. E-mail: robert.west{at}


Objective: Smokers from more deprived socio-economic groups are less likely to become ex-smokers. This study examined how far this is attributable in England to a social gradient in quit attempts, use of aids to cessation, and/or the success of quit attempts.

Participants: 6,950 respondents aged 16+ who had smoked in the past year of whom 2,983 had tried to stop in the past year and 469 reported having stopped at the time of the survey.

Main outcome measures: Reported attempts to stop smoking in the past year; use of stop-smoking medications; use of behavioural support; current smoking status.

Results: There was a large difference in success rates of quit attempts: 20.4% in social grade AB versus 11.4% in social grade E of those who made attempts were still not smoking by the time of the survey (p<0.001). However, there was no difference across social grades in the rate of attempts to stop (42.7% in social grade AB to 41.3% in E), use of medications to aid cessation (46.7% of those making quit attempts in AB to 50.9% in E) or use of NHS Stop Smoking Services (7.0% of those making quit attempts in AB to 4.8% in E).

Conclusions: Smokers in more deprived socio-economic groups are just as likely as those in higher groups to try to stop and use aids to cessation but there is a strong gradient across socio-economic groups in success, with those in the lowest group being half as likely to succeed compared with the highest.

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