In This Article Smoking Cessation

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Low- and Middle-Income Countries
  • Harm Reduction

Public Health Smoking Cessation
Michael Eriksen, Carrie Whitney
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0116


Worldwide, there are approximately one billion adult smokers, and each year tobacco use kills nearly six million individuals. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, and it results in death for nearly half of all lifetime users. The negative health impacts of smoking are now widely known, and quitting provides immediate, long-term health benefits. While most current smokers want to quit, quitting is difficult and often takes multiple attempts, but it is not impossible. In fact, in the United States and in many other developed countries, there are more ex-smokers than there are current smokers. There are various ways to quit smoking, including self-quit methods, often called “cold turkey,” or through various support systems. Most smokers who successfully quit smoking report doing so on their own, without any formal support programs. However, recent research evidence shows that broad tobacco control efforts, such as increases in the excise tax on tobacco products, clean indoor air laws, restrictions on marketing and advertising, and the declining social acceptability of tobacco use, have all contributed to the high levels of successful quitting in developed countries. For those individuals that seek direct assistance in quitting, pharmacotherapy has been found effective and roughly doubles the quit rates that would be expected without pharmacologic assistance. Smoking cessation desire and support is strongest in high-income countries where smoking rates have peaked, the negative health effects of smoking have emerged, and prevalence rates are beginning to decline. Smoking rates in most low- and middle-income countries continue to increase, and these countries have not yet experienced the negative health and financial impacts caused by smoking. Therefore, smoking cessation is a more novel topic in low- and middle-income countries, and it is not yet understood which cessation methods are effective in these countries. Research suggests that successful quitting is associated with a strong intrinsic desire to quit, often reinforced by broad tobacco control measures, and confidence in one’s ability to successfully quit smoking. The combination of strong intrinsic motivation and a high degree of self-efficacy greatly increases the likelihood that current smokers can successfully and permanently quit. There are two ways to reduce global tobacco use: by preventing youth smoking, and by increasing the number of current smokers who quit. Smoking cessation is vital to population health and must be supported and encouraged globally through multifaceted tobacco control programs and initiatives


Smoking cessation resources and research findings are commonly documented in publications such as journals. Several broad-level, peer-reviewed public health journals, such as the American Journal of Public Health, British Medical Journal, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine, commonly cite smoking cessation literature. Other journals, such as Addiction and Addictive Behaviors, focus on addictive substances, with tobacco use being a common subject topic. Finally, Nicotine and Tobacco Research and Tobacco Control are peer-reviewed journals focusing specifically on nicotine and tobacco.

  • Addiction. 1903–.

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    Publishes peer-reviewed research from various disciplines on the topics of alcohol, illicit drugs, tobacco, and behavioral addictions.

  • Addictive Behaviors. 1975–.

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    International, peer-reviewed scientific journal publishing human research on substance abuse, specifically alcohol, drugs, and nicotine.

  • American Journal of Public Health. 1911–.

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    Publishes original research and program evaluations in the field of public health, with a mission to advance public health research, policy, practice, and education.

  • British Medical Journal. 1840–.

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    International, peer-reviewed medical journal with a mission to engage, inform, and stimulate doctors, researchers, and other health professionals in a manner that improves outcomes for patients.

  • JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 1883–.

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    International, peer-reviewed general medical journal that publishes original research, reviews, commentaries, editorials, essays, medical news, correspondence, and ancillary content. JAMA has been published consistently since 1883.

  • The New England Journal of Medicine. 1812–.

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    Publishes peer-reviewed research and clinical content for physicians, educators, and the global medical community on a weekly basis.

  • Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 1999–.

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    Peer-reviewed journal focused on the topics of nicotine and tobacco. Publishes empirical findings, critical reviews, and conceptual papers on nicotine and tobacco from various disciplines.

  • Tobacco Control. 1992–.

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    International, peer-reviewed journal about the nature and consequences of tobacco use throughout the world, including population health, economics, economy, environment, society, tobacco control efforts, and the activities of tobacco companies.

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