Smokers More Likely to Quit if Spouse Does
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - With a little help from their spouses, even the most stubborn of smokers can quit, study findings show.
Researchers found that middle-aged smokers married to other smokers--generally among the most unwilling to kick the habit--are more likely to quit when both spouses make the attempt together.
Past research has highlighted the importance of a supportive spouse during a smoker's quit attempt. The new study shows that for both men and women, having a smoking spouse join them in the attempt may boost the odds of its success--regardless of other factors that affect smokers' ability to kick the habit, such as age, income and education.
Middle-aged smokers married to the same may be the toughest to convince of the benefits of giving up smoking, having long resisted the numerous health arguments for quitting. But a spouse's willingness to quit, along with growing concerns about health in old age, may be what some of these smokers need, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Melissa M. Franks of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
They reported their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Aging and Health.
In the study, the researchers followed nearly 1,400 married smokers in the US between 1992 and 1994. Of the 450 married pairs of smokers in 1992, the large majority were still smoking 2 years later. But in just over 5% of these couples, both spouses quit during the study. And, the researchers report, having a spouse who quit had a "large effect" on the odds that a smoker, man or woman, would quit.
According to Franks and her colleagues, such combined quit efforts may help by removing "smoking cues" from the home or by boosting spouses' support for each other. And a spouse who's trying to quit may also pester his or her smoking spouse more.
However, the researchers point out, although this study found a "potential incentive" for married smokers to quit, it also found that most of these smokers remain stubborn in their habit.