Surveys of smokers' attitudes to quitting have shown that the greatest advantages seen by smokers in quitting are feeling healthier and saving money, and that weight gain and irritability are the most frequently mentioned disadvantages.(28,91,101,102) Although the studies used in Table 16.10 and Table 16.11 are not directly comparable (the first being national, and the following series Victorian), the data have been collected by the same method, and suggest a generally more positive trend in attitudes held by smokers towards quitting, especially shown by changed perceptions of disadvantages (Table 16.10).
The national (1983) survey also asked people who had quit smoking what problems they had experienced. Overall, current smokers anticipated more potential problems with quitting than were experienced by those who had actually stopped,(28) a finding confirmed in later Victorian studies.(91,101)
Except for concern about weight gain, which was consistently mentioned more often by women, there is little difference between the sexes in perception of advantages and disadvantages of quitting. Although women are more likely to cite disadvantages to quitting than men, the percentage of women seeing 'no disadvantages' has increased over the last decade (Table 16.11). Both sexes show a trend towards lessened perceptions of disadvantages.
Victorian and South Australian research shows that on average, smokers believe that they should quit smoking, but that they are not quite ready.(10,103,104) Applying Prochaska and DiClemente's definitions of attitudinal change leading to quitting (see Chapter 12, Section 2), more smokers are positioned in the 'contemplation' stage than in any other category. Younger smokers and those with lighter daily consumption are more confident that they will succeed in quitting,(103,104) and those with higher educational attainment are more likely to be taking action or planning to quit than those who have not completed high school. There are no gender differences in intention to quit.(10,11)