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Smokers less dependent but losing motivation to quit the habit

Proportion of smokers trying to quit has dropped from 37% to 30%

Smokers have become less addicted to cigarettes but are less motivated to try to kick the habit, research suggests.

The study by researchers at University College London (UCL) reveals fewer cigarettes were smoked daily in 2017 compared with 2008 and the number of people smoking within an hour of waking up dropped.

However, the analysis of 41,610 smokers in England found the proportion trying to cut down on how much they smoke or quit altogether both declined.

Study lead author Dr Claire Garnett, from UCL’s Department of Behavioural Science & Health, said the decline in the proportion of smokers trying to quit or cut down could reflect budget cuts on tobacco control, including mass media expenditure and stop-smoking services.

“These are known to be effective and it is a false economy to be cutting back on these,” she added.

Since 2017, when the smoking ban in enclosed public places was introduced, smoking in England has decreased from 21.1% in 2008 to 14.9% in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The UCL study found smokers in 2017 smoked an average of 10.9 cigarettes a day compared with 13.6 in 2008.

Some 13.4% of smokers did not smoke every day in 2017, up from 9.1% at the start of the 10-year period.

However, while over a third (37%) of smokers had tried to stop smoking in the past year when surveyed in 2008, this dropped to 29.9% in 2017.

The proportion trying to cut down how much they smoke declined from 56.1% to 47.9% over the same period.

Of those who tried to quit, fewer used behavioural support and more used pharmacological support, such as e-cigarettes.

The study was published in the journal Addiction.