What Differentiates Underserved Smokers Who Successfully Quit From Those Who Do Not


Poor persons continue to smoke at high rates and suffer grave health effects. We have been working with our community partners since 2008 to help poor people in the surrounding neighborhoods stop smoking through a multi-phase CBPR intervention known as CEASE. Our study used qualitative methods to identify factors that characterized those who successfully quit smoking (doers) and those who did not (non-doers). Both doers and non-doers identified social pressure as the main reason for starting to smoke, and health as the main motivator for quitting. Although they were similar in many ways, the doers seemed to have more social support for cessation—i.e., more people in their lives who wanted them to quit and whom they wanted to protect from secondhand smoke. The non-doers offered more feedback on how to improve the cessation classes, including making them longer, reducing the class size, adding extra counseling, and using quitting partners. Both doers and non-doers reported increased self-confidence, appreciation for the cessation support they received from CEASE, and a desire that the group classes continue. Cessation is a social event and smokers with more social support appear to be more successful at quitting. Showing interest in and offering social support to poor underserved smokers in their own communities is a powerful way to help them.

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The funding was provided by National Institute of General Medical Sciences (UL1GM118973) and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (MD000217 and MD002803).

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Correspondence to Anne Marie O’Keefe.

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The authors whose names are listed immediately above certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

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O’Keefe, A.M., Bustad, K., Apata, J. et al. What Differentiates Underserved Smokers Who Successfully Quit From Those Who Do Not. J Community Health 44, 44–51 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-018-0551-8

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  • Community-based participatory research (CBPR)
  • Peer motivator
  • Doer/non-doer analysis
  • Social capital