A new study has revealed one in five Australian smokers (21%) would prefer to still be smoking in the next 1-2 years, only 59% would prefer to quit smoking all together, and the remainder would either prefer to switch to a lower harm alternative (12%) or are uncertain.
The study, led by researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland was published today in Drug and Alcohol Review .
8642 smokers from the US, Canada, England and Australia who identified as smoking at least weekly, were surveyed in the 2020 International Tobacco Control Four Country Smoking and Vaping Survey.
1213 participants were surveyed from Australia.
Participants were asked if they preferred to continue to smoke or to quit with or without an alternative nicotine product over the next 1–2 years.
Co-author Professor Ron Borland from the Melbourne Centre for Behaviour Change in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne said the study yielded some interesting results, both for Australia and more broadly.
Professor Borland said the researchers were surprised that only 57 per cent of all smokers surveyed across the four countries wanted to quit all forms of nicotine in the medium term, with the remainder split between those preferring to switch to an alternative and 21 per cent continuing to smoke or being uncertain.
“These results pose a challenge for tobacco control efforts, especially as we also know that most of those who would want to quit, have failed multiple times, and many are unlikely to succeed even with current approved help,” Professor Borland said.
“New approaches may be needed to try to steer people away from smoking, because there is an increase in alternative products in many parts of the world, giving rise to more choice.
“It is notable that in England, which has a more liberal approach to the use of vaping, including encouraging smokers to try them, that a preference for alternative products was stronger (19%) with a desire to quit all nicotine least common (47%) among the four countries studied.
“Our study raises questions about the viability of current approaches to reducing smoking as it’s clear that there are still people who aren’t actively trying to quit, and don’t necessarily intend to in the next 1-2 years."