Processes of change in heavy and light smokers

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Date of Original Version



The nicotine addiction model is frequently used to explain the fact that light smokers are more successful in quitting smoking than are heavy smokers. According to this view, heavy smokers are more addicted to nicotine and therefore experience more withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other difficulties when attempting to quit. However, dependence models of smoking have received inconsistent research support. In the present study an alternative explanation is offered, that light smokers employ more change strategies than do heavy smokers. Light (N=72) and heavy (N=247) smokers were compared on 10 processes of change known to be relevant to cessation based on previous studies. The MANOVA results indicated that light smokers outperformed heavy smokers on 4 of the 10 processes, especially on behaviorally oriented processes such as reinforcement management, self-liberation, and counterconditioning. A follow-up discriminant analysis correctly classified 82% of both light and heavy smokers. Although these results do not invalidate nicotine addiction models, they are suggestive and provide additional support for the Transtheoretical Model of problem behavior change. © 1988 Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Substance Abuse