Date of Award

Fall 1981

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The process of trying to maintain abstinence from cigarettes was assessed in a longitudinal, descriptive study of self-initiated quitters. Participants completed: (1) a preliminary questionnaire; (2) six follow-up questionnaire packets mailed to them monthly; and (3) a final questionnaire sent with the sixth follow-up packet.

Abstainers and relapsers differed in the following ways: (1) Relapsers more often indicated cessation goals which left open the possibility of future smoking; (2) Although both groups began their participation with relatively high levels of commitment to quit, abstainers' levels were slightly higher than relapsers'. At the conclusion of their participation, relapsers' commitment to quit had dropped significantly; (3) Both groups began with relatively high success expectations, although abstainers' expectations were slightly higher. At the conclusion of their participation, relapsers' expectations for success at remaining abstinent had dropped significantly; (4) Although they did not differ at the start of the investigation, at the conclusion abstainers' difficulty expectations had dropped significantly, whereas relapsers' expected difficulty abstaining had increased significantly; (5) Relapsers reported a significantly higher percentage of smokers in their combined home, work and social environments; (6) Overall, abstainers reported feeling significantly more in control of themselves during and after temptations or smoking episodes than did relapsers.

Most temptations occurred at home or at work and they were primarily precipitated by intrapersonal negative emotional states or social pressure. Most smoking episodes occurred at home or in public places and they were also primarily precipitated by intrapersonal negative emotional states or social pressure.

Factors which emerged as important to examine for a more in-depth understanding of long term abstinence and for intervention for relapse prevention were: (1) Individuals' confidence in their ability to remain nonsmokers (self-efficacy); (2) Expectations about the effects or consequences of smoking a cigarette following abstinence; (3) Strategies used for coping with temptations to smoke; (4) The influence of significant others who smoke on relapse; (5) The influence of sociocultural factors on relapse.