Global: Attitudes towards quitting smoking
April 6th, 2022, Rishad Dsouza

Global: Attitudes towards quitting smoking

Tobacco smoking has long been recognised as one of the biggest scourges of public health, but the practice remains fairly widespread across markets.

In this piece, we examine YouGov Profiles data to understand the prevalence of smoking among various populations and the proportion of smokers who are looking to quit. The markets explored in this article are the United States, Great Britain, Indonesia and India.

Smoking is most prevalent in Indonesia, with a third of consumers there saying they currently smoke, either daily or less frequently (32%). About a quarter of Americans (23%) are current smokers, as are a fifth of Indians (19%). The share of consumers who smoke currently drops to 16% among Britons.

Looking at ex-smokers, Brits top the list with a third of consumers (31%) there saying “I used to smoke but I have given up now”. A quarter of Americans (25%) have also kicked the habit, compared to just one in ten Indians (10%) and one in eight Indonesians (13%).

YouGov Profiles allows us to examine the attitudes of current smokers towards quitting smoking. A majority of smokers in each market admit that they want to quit smoking at some point, even if they’re undecided on a time frame to turn this intention into reality.

Smokers in Britain are most likely to want to continue smoking, with two in five of them either saying “I don’t want to ever stop smoking” or “I think I should stop smoking but don’t really want to” (40%). About a third of smokers in each of Indonesia (36%), India (34%) and the US (34%) also fall into that bracket.

Although British smokers are least likely to want to give up smoking, nearly one in ten of them (8%) aim to quit the habit in the next month, leading the pack in this bracket.

Looking at smokers who want to quit but haven’t figured out when, Indonesians are way ahead of other markets. A third of them say “I want to stop smoking but haven’t thought about when” (33%), compared to about one in seven of their smoker counterparts in the US (16%), Britain (15%) and India (16%).

On similar lines, one in seven Indonesian smokers (15%) say they “really” want to stop smoking but don’t know when they will. A similar share of Americans (13%), one in ten Indians (10%) and one in 17 Brits (6%) sail in the same boat.

This data, exploring where consumers sit in relation to wanting to quit smoking, can be used by health authorities to tailor their messaging to different markets.

Receive monthly topical insights about the health and pharmaceutical industry, straight to your inbox. Sign up today. 

Discover more health and pharma content  here 

Want to run your own research? Start building a survey now

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.