Weight-conscious smokers less likely to try quitting, study shows
American women who believe smoking helps control weight are less likely than other female smokers to try quitting in response to higher cigarette prices and anti-smoking messages, a new study finds.
“We found that concerns about weight are a significant barrier to quitting among U.K. smokers and U.S. female smokers who believe smoking helps them manage weight,” said lead author Ce Shang, of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Researchers analyzed data from about 10,000 smokers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom who took part in surveys conducted between 2002 and 2007.
A 10 percent increase in cigarette prices was associated with a 6 percent rise in attempts to quit among female smokers in the United States who did not believe that smoking helps control weight. But no significant increase in attempts to quit was seen among those who thought smoking keeps weight down, the findings showed.
And a 10 percent increase in exposure to anti-smoking messages was associated with a 12 percent increase in attempts to quit among female U.S. smokers who did not believe that smoking helps control weight, but no increase in quit attempts among those who thought smoking helped control weight.
Similar patterns were seen among smokers in the United Kingdom, but not among male or female smokers in Australia or Canada, according to the study published online recently in the journal Tobacco Control.
“Policymakers should take weight concerns into account to enhance the effectiveness of existing policies that promote quitting smoking,” said Shang, a senior research specialist in the university’s Institute for Health Research and Policy.
Shang pointed out that heavy smokers are more likely to be overweight than those who smoke less, “so the idea that smoking helps control weight is really unfounded.”