Smoking results in a financial and a health burden to individuals and society. We studied the effect of participant’s attitude about financial cost of smoking and its influence on quitting.
On day one, participants were asked about “reasons for quitting” with multiple reasons listed. Participants checked off all that applied, one choice being “cost of cigarettes”. Participants self-rated on “readiness-to-quit” scale between 1-10. On last day, participants who quit smoking were surveyed for “perceived benefits since quitting”. Participants checked many; with one choice “money saved”. Data was collected 1999–2003.
473 participants were studied, 227 [48.0%] cited “cost of cigarettes” as reason for quitting. There was no significant association between citing cost as a reason and high readiness-to-quit, (≥7 on a scale of 1-10), (chi-square test) ). Of those who reported high readiness-to-quit, only 46.0% considered cost as a significant factor, whereas 56.4% of those who reported low readiness-to-quit did consider cost as a reason to quit. There was no significant association between citing cost, and sex, (chi-square test), age or pack years (Mann-Whitney test). 209 (51.9%) participants successfully quit. Survey of quitters revealed only 14.4% reported, “money saved” as a benefit. Majority of participants reported immediate improvement in their health as the most tangible quitting benefit.CONCLUSIONS: Participants who are more ready to quit [score ≥7 out of 10) are no more likely to report the cost of cigarettes as a reason for quitting. Although nearly half of all participants initially saw cost as a factor for quitting, few were able to appreciate a tangible financial benefit of money saved after quitting. Participants realize the gain in health improvement as a much more important apparent benefit immediately after quitting than any financial saving.
Clinicians cannot rely upon patient attitudes about cost of cigarettes as a serious indicator for their readiness-to-quit. Further studies are needed to elucidate the impact of financial costs on smoking and its effect on the process of quitting.
V.C. Reichert, None.