updated 1/3/2007 1:40:11 PM ET 2007-01-03T18:40:11

Most young smokers who try to quit usually do so on their own instead of using recommended methods, according to a report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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This could explain why smokers age 16 to 24 have higher failure rates when they try to quit than do older smokers, the CDC notes in the article.

The article described results of the 2003 National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey, which looked at quitting behavior in 1,827 “established” smokers 16 to 24 years old. “Smokers who had ever tried to quit were asked about their knowledge of, and perceived availability of, and use of assisted and unassisted quitting methods,” the report states.

Of the six recommended quitting methods for adults — talk to a health professional, use nicotine-replacement products, use bupropion (such as Zyban), talk with a counselor, attend a program or class, and call a help line — only consulting a health professional was tried by at least 20 percent of young people surveyed.

On the other hand, six of the 11 unassisted methods that are not recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service were each used by at least 36 percent of respondents. The most common unassisted strategy (cutting back on the number of cigarettes smoked in a day) was tried by 88.3 percent of would-be quitters.

The other five commonly used unassisted methods were not buying cigarettes, tried by 56 percent of young smokers; exercising more (51 percent); trying to quit with a friend (47.5 percent); telling others they quit (44.5 percent); and switching to light cigarettes (36.1 percent).

Young women were more apt than young men to seek the help of a professional to kick the habit but they were less likely to have tried nicotine gum (14.4 percent vs 20.3 percent). Women were also more likely than men to enlist the help of a friend when trying to quit smoking and to have used self-help pamphlets or videos.

However, men were more likely than women to try exercise as a quit strategy and to switch to chewing tobacco, snuff or other tobacco products.

“The high proportion of respondents who tried to quit smoking by switching to light cigarettes or other tobacco products is “a concern because such strategies might undermine successful cessation,” the report states.

The CDC encourages young smokers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or seek help from a health professional to determine the most appropriate method for them.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.


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