Factors motivating smoking cessation: a cross-sectional study in a lower-middle-income country

Russell Seth Martins, Muhammad Umer Junaid, Muhammad Sharjeel Khan, Namrah Aziz, Zoha Zahid Fazal, Mariam Umoodi, Fatima Shah, Javaid Ahmed Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Only one-quarter of smokers in Pakistan attempt to quit smoking, and less than 3% are successful. In the absence of any literature from the country, this study aimed to explore factors motivating and strategies employed in successful smoking cessation attempts in Pakistan, a lower-middle-income country. Methods: A survey was carried out in Karachi, Pakistan, amongst adult (≥ 18 years) former smokers (individuals who had smoked ≥100 cigarettes in their lifetime but who had successfully quit smoking for > 1 month at the time of survey). Multivariable logistic regression, with number of quit attempts (single vs. multiple) as the dependent variable, was performed while adjusting for age, sex, monthly family income, years smoked, cigarettes/day before quitting, and having suffered from a smoking-related health problem. Results: Out of 330 former smokers, 50.3% quit successfully on their first attempt with 62.1% quitting “cold turkey”. Only 10.9% used a cessation aid (most commonly nicotine replacement therapy: 8.2%). Motivations for quitting included self-health (74.5%), promptings by one’s family (43%), and family’s health (14.8%). Other social pressures included peer-pressure to quit smoking (31.2%) and social avoidance by non-smokers (22.7%). Successful smoking cessation on one’s first attempt was associated with being married (OR: 4.47 [95% CI: 2.32–8.61]), employing an abrupt cessation mode of quitting (4.12 [2.48–6.84]), and telling oneself that one has the willpower to quit (1.68 [1.04–2.71]). Conclusion: In Pakistan, smoking cessation is motivated by concern for self-health and family’s health, family’s support, and social pressures. Our results lay a comprehensive foundation for the development of smoking-cessation interventions tailored to the population of the country. Implications: Little is known about the patterns and strategies employed by smokers who are attempting to quit smoking, especially in lower-middle-income countries like Pakistan. Likewise, there are very few smoking cessation programs designed to assist in quitting. Our study will allow for a better understanding of the culture-specific motivating factors and strategies that most contributed to successful quit attempts. Based on these results, evidence based smoking cessation interventions can be developed tailored to the socioeconomic demographic of our country and region, including smoking cessation clinics and public outreach and media campaigns highlighting key elements of successful smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1419
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Cigarettes
  • Developing countries
  • Ex-smokers
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Tobacco


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