Perception of Risk Can Affect Smoker's Desire and Ability to Quit

There are many risks associated with smoking, but some smokers, particularly women, believe there are also risks associated with quitting, according to a study by Yale researchers in the March issue of Addictive Behaviors.

The perception of risks–gaining weight, stress, loss of focus, and losing a connection with friends who smoke–sometimes reduces smokers motivation to quit and can make an attempt less likely to succeed, according to the study. The researchers found the relationship between the perception of risks and failed quit attempts was particularly high among women smokers.

“Dispelling some of these notions about quitting would be worthwhile,” said Sherry McKee, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale and lead author of the study. “For the most part these perceived risks are short term, and the benefits from quitting smoking far outweigh any short–term discomfort that comes along with quitting.”

McKee is a principal investigator with the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC) at Yale, which is part of the Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale, one of seven research centers nationwide conducting transdisciplinary tobacco–related research. TTURC is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The results of the study could help with the development of more effective smoking cessation programs, public education campaigns and intervention strategies designed to help people stop smoking, according to the study.

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Co–authors include Professors Stephanie O’Malley, Peter Salovey, and Carolyn Mazure, and Assistant Professor Suchitra Krishnan–Sarin.

Citation: Addictive Behaviors 30: 423–435 (March 2005)