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Do ex-smokers report feeling happier following cessation? Evidence from a cross-sectional survey

Shahab, L; West, R; (2009) Do ex-smokers report feeling happier following cessation? Evidence from a cross-sectional survey. Nicotine & Tobacco Research , 11 (5) 553 - 557. 10.1093/ntr/ntp031. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction: Many smokers fear that when they stop smoking they will give up an important source of enjoyment and be less happy. Yet, little is known about the long-term affective impact of quitting. The present study examined ex-smokers' reports of change in happiness following cessation and factors associated with these reports.Methods: In a cross-sectional household survey of a randomly selected, representative sample, 879 ex-smokers were asked to indicate whether they felt happier now, less happy, or about the same compared with when they were smoking. In addition to sociodemographic variables, the survey assessed how long ago ex-smokers had quit as well as prior enjoyment of smoking.Results: The large majority of ex-smokers (69.3%, 95% CI = 66.2-72.3) reported feeling happier now than when they were smokers, and only a very small minority (3.3%, 95% CI = 2.2-4.7) reported feeling less happy. In multiple regression analysis, controlling for all other variables, we found that greater happiness following cessation was associated with being younger (odds ratio [OR] per 10-year decrease in age = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.09-1.35) and having quit more than a year ago (OR = 2.37, 95% CI = 1.48-3.80), but responses were not related to other sociodemographic factors, prior cigarette consumption, or previous enjoyment of smoking. Irrespective of these associations, in every given category of respondents, the majority of ex-smokers reported being happier having quit smoking.Discussion: Ex-smokers overwhelmingly reported being happier now than when they were smoking. There are many possible reasons for this finding, including self-justification, but it provides at least partial reassurance to would-be quitters that quality of life is likely to improve if they succeed.

Type: Article
Title: Do ex-smokers report feeling happier following cessation? Evidence from a cross-sectional survey
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntp031
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntp031
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Nicotine & Tobacco Research following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version [Shahab, L. & West, R. (2009). Do ex-smokers report feeling happier following cessation? Evidence from a cross-sectional survey. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 11, 553-557.] is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntp031
Keywords: SET-POINT MODEL, CIGARETTE-SMOKING, POSITIVE AFFECT, HAPPINESS, ADAPTATION, EVENTS, STRESS, HEALTH
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/152360
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