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Think about the future. Does it include quitting smoking?: Study

September 05, 2012|By Mary MacVean
  • Researchers find that people who look toward the future are more likely to quit smoking.
Researchers find that people who look toward the future are more likely… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

It makes sense: Smokers who think more about the future are more likely to quit, a study suggests.

Research has long shown that smokers are less likely than nonsmokers to make long-term plans. Now a study from the journal Addiction published Wednesday looks at the issue from another perspective.

Heather Brown and Jean Adams of Newcastle University in Britain looked at eight years of data from a database called the Household Income and Labor Dynamics of Australia. More than 7,000 households in Australia are surveyed annually about work, family and well-being. The researchers identified 1,817 participants who smoked at the start of the survey in 2001 and analyzed their consideration of the future based on saving and spending.

Those who planned by more than three months ahead were categorized as having a longer horizon; those who planned for a week or less had a shorter one.

The researchers then looked at how many of those 1,817 people quit or tried to quit smoking by 2008. They found that 76% of the quitters fit the longer horizon group.

Similar associations have been found in the way people with diabetes make positive changes to their diets and habits, and with cocaine users and their likelihood of quitting use of the drug.

Getting smokers to think about the future might be a helpful strategy, Adams said.

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