Perceptions of addiction, attempts to quit, and successful quitting in nondaily and daily smokers

Carla J. Berg, Gillian L.Schauer Berg, Taneisha S. Buchanan, Kymberle Sterling, Carla DeSisto, Erika A Pinsker, Jasjit S Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We aimed to qualitatively examine differences in perceptions of addiction, attempts to quit, and successful quitting among nondaily versus daily college student smokers. We conducted 16 focus groups with a total of 73 college student smokers from the southeastern U.S. Focus groups were homogenous in terms of gender, smoking status (nondaily, daily), and type of school (2-year college, 4-year university). Questions centered on perceptions of addiction, their own addiction, what constitutes a quit attempt, and successful quitting. Themes that emerged among all smokers regarding conceptualization of general addiction included physiological and psychological dependence and an inability to quit smoking. In terms of their own addiction, nondaily smokers referenced their ability to quit and sense of choice to smoke as factors indicating a lack of addiction, whereas daily smokers reported dependence symptoms and their inability to control their smoking indicating addiction. Nondaily smokers discussed quit attempts in terms of making the decision to quit and avoiding situational triggers, whereas daily smokers reported taking more behavioral steps toward cessation (e.g., not buying cigarettes, reducing cigarette consumption). With regard to successful cessation, both groups identified losing the desire to smoke as a hallmark. However, nondaily smokers reported that the decision to quit might constitute successful cessation; daily smokers had more strict behavioral criteria such as abstinence for an extended period of time. The different perceptions of one's own addiction, attempting to quit smoking, and successful quitting suggest the need to improve assessments of these factors, particularly among nondaily smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1067
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • addiction
  • attitudes
  • cessation
  • smoking
  • tobacco use


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