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  • Why partners could hamper smokers' attempts to quit

    Author: AAP

People looking to give up cigarettes are much more likely to succeed if they don't live with other smokers, a study suggests.

The study looked at a 10-year period and predicted the number of people smoking would fall by 43 per cent across the decade when smokers lived with non-smokers.

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When people lived alone, the proportion of smokers would decrease by 26 per cent across the decade, while people living with partners who smoked would be marginally better off at 28 per cent.

"In general, living with a partner is good. It helps you quit," study author and Monash University Centre for Health Economics research fellow Karinna Saxby said.

"But then if you're living with a smoking partner, you may as well be living alone - that's how much that negates that positive effect."


If there was at least one other smoker in a household, a person's chances of relapsing when trying to quit were significantly higher, Ms Saxby said.

Living with a spouse who smoked was the strongest predictor of relapse.

"If your partner's smoking as well, it's just so much harder to quit," Ms Saxby said.

"These findings suggest that decisions to quit are not made in isolation."

The Monash Centre for Health Economics and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre study considered data from about 12,700 Australians to come up with predictions for the different types of households.

It found that between 2011 and 2019, the proportion of smokers living with other smokers increased by 15 per cent.

With the influence of people living in households having received limited attention, Ms Saxby said the study looked at the behaviours of entire households rather than individual smokers.

"Because you're less likely to quit and stop smoking if you're living with another smoking household member, it means that over time, people who are still smoking are becoming more concentrated within smoking households," she said.

Ms Saxby called for health practitioners to focus more on households quitting smoking, which would likely prove much more effective than taxes "just penalising low-income people".


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