Social influences on smoking cessation: A comparison of the effect of six social influence variables

Bas Van Den Putte, Marco C. Yzer, Suzanne Brunsting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Background. This study brings together the fragmentary knowledge on social influence factors related to smoking cessation. An inventory of social influence variables shows six social influence factors. With the exception of descriptive norm, most of these are rarely studied in the context of smoking cessation. Methods. Regression analysis on the data of 2895 smokers was used to estimate the relative importance of social influence variables as predictors of intention. The moderating effect of quit history was studied by adding interaction terms to the regression analysis. Results. The regression analysis shows that subjective norm and injunctive norm, that is, the social norms on what ought to be done, are more important than descriptive norms, that is, the perceived smoking and smoking cessation behavior of others. This holds especially for smokers whose past cessation attempts quickly failed. Most smokers think that it is acceptable to smoke in most social situations, but simultaneously think that other people approve it if they quit smoking. Conclusions. Results suggest that health campaigns should incite social interaction to increase smokers' awareness of social norms on the proper behavior. Also, studies into smoking cessation should take account of the various social influence factors outlined in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preparation of this manuscript was supported by a grant from STIVORO, the Dutch foundation on smoking and health. All data were analyzed by the investigators.


  • Health behavior
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Smoking cessation
  • Social influences


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