The present study proposes target groups for preventive measures in smokers not intending to quit based on the intention to reduce smoking using the stages of change concept. Smokers were identified within a representative general population sample (T1; N=4,075) and assessed after 30 months (T2; N=913) and 36 months (T3; N=786). The cross-sectional analyses of the present study included at T2 677 smokers not intending to quit within the next 6 months (cessation-precontemplation stage). The prospective analyses were based on 584 of these smokers who were followed up at T3. At T2, 9.1% intended to reduce substantially within the next 6 months (reduction-contemplation stage), 1.2% intended to reduce substantially within the next 4 weeks (reduction-preparation stage), 3.7% had already reduced for up to 6 months (reduction-action stage), and 8.2% had maintained reduction for more than 6 months (reduction-maintenance stage). Subjects in the different reduction stages differed with respect to previous quit or reduction attempts, degree of nicotine dependence, and amount of cigarette consumption. Advanced reduction stages were significantly associated with increased chance of future reduction attempts. Future progress in the cessation stages (OR=4.7, 95% CI=1.5-13.1) and future quit attempts (OR=4.8, 95% CI=1.3-15.2) were significantly more likely for those in the reduction-action stage compared with the reduction-precontemplation stage. Analyses separating the components of the stage measure revealed further need for the validation of the common operational definition. In conclusion, a substantial subgroup of smokers not intending to quit could be subtyped by the reduction stages and might be accessible by smoking-reduction interventions. Our data did not support an undermining effect associated with later reduction stages with respect to future quit attempts and progress within the cessation stages.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)