Whether it is job loss, relationship struggles or the inability to pay basic bills like rent, electricity and food, stressors can make it more difficult for people to stop smoking.
In the first international study, Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D., professor in UNMC’s College of Public Health, compared the quit rates of smokers in the U.S., Canada, UK and Australia. His research was recently published in the August edition of the journal “Addiction.”
Comparisons between the four countries showed the UK had the highest percentage of people who attempted to quit and were successful (40 percent). The U.S. had the lowest percentage (27 percent). Across all countries, the major results of the study are:
* Smokers who have financial stress are 20 percent more likely to want to quit smoking than other smokers; and
* Despite their interest in quitting, they are 36 percent less likely to succeed in quitting than other smokers.
“They realize that smoking is costing them money and if they quit it may help alleviate some of their financial problems. So, they are very interested in quitting smoking. They just don’t take the next step and make an attempt,” said Dr. Siahpush.
Dr. Siahpush said this is where the unique nature of financial stress contributes to the outcome.
“Many people smoke to relieve stress or sadness. And financial problems are stressful situations. When people face potential job loss, home loss or divorce, they use smoking as a coping mechanism for their stress,” he said.
Smokers want to quit but don’t – and the habit causes more financial stress, making it harder to quit.
That is why Dr. Siahpush and his colleagues recommend smoking cessation counselors routinely assess the financial stress of their clients and provide additional counseling on financial management to help ease stress.
As another study shows once a smoker’s bottom-line improves…so does his or her ability to quit.
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