Smokers who report quitting without prior planning have been shown to report longer abstinence compared with those who planned. Little is known about unplanned quitting (UQ) among U.S. smokers, minorities, or nondaily and light smokers.
Using an online panel, we recruited equal numbers of Black, White, and Latino nondaily, light daily, and moderate/heavy daily smokers. Of the 1,127 who reported a past-year quit attempt, we queried whether it was planned and the maximum number of days abstinent.
Overall, 38% reported that their last quit attempt was unplanned. The impact of planned versus unplanned quitting interacted with smoking level and race. Among White moderate/heavy smokers, mean days abstinent was 99 for those who reported an unplanned quit attempt compared with 60 days for those who reported a planned attempt (p = .02). Among Black moderate/heavy smokers, the mean days abstinent was higher among those whose last attempt was planned, 92 days, compared with 56 days among those whose last attempt was unplanned (p = .09). The pattern among Latinos resembled Whites but was not significant. Results remained after adjusting for confounds such as age, gender, education, income, time to first cigarette, and menthol use. There were no significant differences in abstinence by quit type for light or nondaily smokers.
Future studies are needed to elucidate why UQ appears to have differential effectiveness across racial/ethnic groups and different levels of cigarette use. Research examining the impact of UQ on long-term quitting, which is not addressed here, is needed.