No data on annual smoking cessation probability (i.e., the probability of successfully quit in a given year) are available for Italy at a population level. Mathematical models typically used to estimate smoking cessation probabilities do not account for smoking relapse. In this paper, we developed a mathematical model to estimate annual quitting probabilities, taking into account smoking relapse and time since cessation.
We developed a dynamic model describing the evolution of current, former, and never smokers. We estimated probabilities of smoking cessation by fitting the model with observed smoking prevalence in Italy, 1986-2009.
Annual cessation probabilities were higher than 5% only in elderly persons and in women aged < 30 years, while in adults aged 30-49 and 50-59 cessations were about 2% and 3-5%, respectively. Most of quit probabilities stalled from 1986 to 2009.
Over the last 20 years, cessation probabilities among Italian smokers, particularly for those aged 30-59 years, have been very low and stalled. Quitting in Italy is considered as a practicable strategy only by women in the age of pregnancy and by elderly persons, when it’s likely that symptoms of tobacco-related diseases have already appeared. In order to increase cessation probabilities, smoking cessation treatment policies (introducing total reimbursement of cessation treatments, with a further development of quitlines and smoking cessation services) should be empowered and a country-wide mass media campaign targeting smokers aged 30-59 years and focusing on promotion of quitting should be implemented.