To examine the use and role of planned quit attempts by smokers and their impact on abstinence.
Retrospective, using longitudinal data from the Ontario Tobacco Survey.
A total of 551 adult smokers who reported having made a quit attempt during 2007-08.
Reported planning of the most recent quit attempt (i.e. unplanned or planned some time in advance), engaging in preparatory behaviours believed to be related to planning (i.e. use of quit aids such as pharmacotherapy, formal support or health professionals) and abstinence at 1 week and 1 month following the attempt.
Of the smokers, 73.6% planned their quit attempt in advance. Reported planning was more likely among those who thought they were very addicted, compared with those who were less addicted [odds ratio (OR)=2.22, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.15-4.28]. Smokers who planned a quit attempt were much more likely to use a quit aid (OR=3.50, 95% CI: 1.80-6.79), particularly pharmacotherapy (OR=6.13, 95% CI: 3.05-12.34). The odds of abstaining for 1 week were lower among those who planned (OR=0.45, 95% CI: 0.22-0.89), independent of perceived addiction. No significant difference was observed for abstinence lasting 1 month. Other factors associated with abstinence were smoking fewer cigarettes per day and having personal support.
Although most quit attempts were planned and planners had higher odds of using quit aids, planning did not increase the likelihood of success.