16% of English smokers classed as hardcore

May 15, 2003

As many as 16% of smokers in England are classed as hardcore, almost four times higher than in California where there has been an intensive campaign against smoking over the past decade, show researchers in this week's BMJ.

Their study was based on interviews with 7,766 adult cigarette smokers in England. To be classified as a hardcore smoker, respondents had to satisfy all the following criteria: less than a day without cigarettes in the past five years; no attempt to quit in the past year; no desire and no intention to quit.

Sixteen per cent of all smokers were considered to be hardcore, almost four times higher than in California.

Hardcore smokers tended to be older, more dependent on tobacco, and from more deprived backgrounds. They were also more likely to deny that smoking affected their health, and were less tolerant of social pressure to quit than other smokers.

Hardcore smoking presents a serious challenge to public health efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking, but the proportion of hardcore smokers does not necessarily increase as overall prevalence in a population declines, say the authors.

More hardcore smokers could be persuaded to quit, but this will require interventions that are targeted to the particular needs and perceptions of both socially disadvantaged and older smokers, they conclude.
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BMJ

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