Objectives To establish patterns of smoking among 15-to 19-year-olds within mixed urban and suburban area and explore preference for the nature of services to assist quitting.
Design Postal survey and depth interviews with focus group validation.
Setting People registered with health services in the Borough of Solihull, UK. The borough has a diverse population with areas of high deprivation to the north and a range of prosperity elsewhere.
Participants Questionnaires were sent to 50% of those registered and 20 people interviewed aged from 15 to 19 years.
Main outcome measures The survey contained demographic questions relating to educational attainment and family, smoking status, history and quit attempts, use of facilities for quit attempts. Qualitative themes explored attitudes and experience of quitting, utilization of cessation services, barriers to access and nicotine replacement therapy.
Results Total survey response rate was 32.6%. Three in five reported smoking a cigarette sometime, 17.2% current regular smokers, 7.2% current occasional smokers. Median age of starting smoking was significantly lower (P = 0.004) for current regular smokers, distinguishable in two groups; weekend smokers and all week smokers. More quit attempts had been made or planned by current regular smokers but were often short lived. Weekend smokers had a slightly longer duration of quitting (P = 0.03). Eight-two per cent were optimistic about quitting in the future although the majority (80%) had already made one quit attempt. Knowledge and use of existing services was poor, with concerns about privacy and confidentiality. Models based on autonomy were identified as potentially useful.
Conclusion Teenage smoking is characterized by optimism about quitting despite the failure of many quit attempts, lack of regard for existing services and barriers to uptake.