What motivates people to quit smoking?

Health concerns, social disapproval, high cost- there are many reasons people say they want to quit smoking tobacco products. What really motivates a person to quit, and how can clinicians and health care worker use that information to motivate persons who may be ambivalent about quitting?

Not surprisingly, one study found long term health concerns to be the greatest concern amongst smokers. Over 70% of young adult smokers had this concern. Notably, however, this concern was strongest amongst persons who were already motivated to quit, including those that had already tried to quit and failed. Non-daily users who were not concerned about their use were less motivated by health concerns- even if those persons scored high on measures of nicotine dependence.

So, occasional users may not be moved by appeals for their health. This may be because they believe their occasional use is less likely to lead to health problems, and they may benefit from education about the dangers of occasional tobacco use.

Tanner Oliver