Web-based survey on smoking cessation behaviors of current and former smokers in Japan

To investigate the long term smoking cessation behaviors in a population of Japanese current smokers (CS) and former smokers (FS).

Retrospective survey of Japanese men and women ≥20 years of age who were CS (those who smoked any number of cigarettes at the time of the survey, 24–27 June 2013) or FS (those who had smoked any number of cigarettes in the past but did not consider themselves smokers at the time of the survey). CS/FS were selected from a prescreened source population recruited by online advertisement that was age- and gender-matched, to represent Japanese smokers. Clinical and socio-demographic characteristics and smoking/smoking cessation history were assessed through a web-based questionnaire.

Main outcome measures were number of past quit attempts and time to relapse; others included methods used to achieve smoking cessation, and reasons for wanting to quit.

Overall, 1261 Japanese subjects were surveyed (CS, n = 631; FS, n = 630). Nearly half (45.6%) of CS had never attempted to quit smoking. Of those who had attempted to quit smoking, one single quit attempt was the most common for both CS and FS (19.0 vs. 39.0%). Estimated median time to relapse was 105 days (FS and CS combined). Unaided smoking cessation was the most common method both for CS and FS (78.2 vs. 63.4%).

In our survey, >70% of smokers used unaided smoking cessation methods, which may have resulted in a lower success rate. Participants relapsed after a median of 105 days of abstinence (25% within 7 days; the remainder had resumed smoking after 1260 days). As with all surveys, recall bias may have influenced the results. Our observations could be combined with other data in health economic models of smoking cessation to identify appropriate measures to reduce the prevalence of smoking in Japan.