• Disclosure;
  • epidemiology;
  • quit attempts;
  • smoking cessation;
  • social support


Aims  To examine the (i) prevalence, (ii) predictors and (iii) cessation outcomes of smokers who engage in undisclosed quit attempts.

Design  Online survey (n = 524), with balanced recruitment of current smokers (55%) and past-year quitters (45%). Participants were daily smokers (current or previous) who had at least one quit attempt in the past year.

Measurements  Respondents were grouped on whether they did versus did not make advanced disclosure to others of their most recent quit attempt.

Findings  Almost half (n = 234; 45%) reported that their most recent quit attempt was undisclosed to anyone in advance. Those who planned their quit attempt in advance [odds ratio (OR) = 0.10; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.05–0.23] and those who used behavioral treatment (OR = 0.14; 95% CI: 0.05–0.43) were less likely to make ‘closet quit attempts’, while those who rated their attempt as being serious (OR = 2.52; 95% CI: 1.16–5.46) and those who deemed social support to be unhelpful (OR = 1.91; 95% CI: 1.24–2.95) were more likely to make such attempts. Closet quit attempters were more likely to achieve 30 days of abstinence than were those who made advanced disclosure (67% versus 58%; adjusted OR 1.8; 95% CI: 1.1–2.8), but there were no differences for achieving 6 months of abstinence (52% versus 49%; adjusted OR 1.2; 95% CI: 0.7–2.0).

Conclusions  Attempting to quit smoking without telling anyone in advance is common, and does not appear to impede success. These findings do not support blanket advice to smokers to tell others about pending quit attempts.