Objective To examine the association of financial stress with interest in quitting smoking, making a quit attempt and quit success.
Design and participants The analysis used data from 4984 smokers who participated in waves 4 and 5 (2005–07) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey, a prospective study of a cohort of smokers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Measurement The outcomes were interest in quitting at wave 4, making a quit attempt and quit success at wave 5. The main predictor was financial stress at wave 4: ‘. . . because of a shortage of money, were you unable to pay any important bills on time, such as electricity, telephone or rent bills?’. Additional socio-demographic and smoking-related covariates were also examined.
Findings Smokers with financial stress were more likely than others to have an interest in quitting at baseline [odds ratio (OR): 1.63; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22–2.19], but were less likely to have made a quit attempt at follow-up (OR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.57–0.96). Among those who made a quit attempt, financial stress was associated with a lower probability of abstinence at follow-up (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.33–0.87).
Conclusions Cessation treatment efforts should consider assessing routinely the financial stress of their clients and providing additional counseling and resources for smokers who experience financial stress. Social policies that provide a safety net for people who might otherwise face severe financial problems, such as not being able to pay for rent or food, may have a favorable impact on cessation rates.