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Smoking cessation: why do smokers fail?

Joyce M. Wolburg (J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of this article is to probe three explanations for the difficulty that cigarette smokers have in quitting: the addictive nature of the product; the failure to deliver messages with effective quit strategies; and the resistance to enacting smoking bans in bars and restaurants. It aims to argue that the latter two issues result in misplaced marketing.


This article examines data from published research, interviews with smokers who have successfully quit, and government statistics to have a clearer picture of the issues.


Smokers are exposed to anti‐smoking messages created to discourage youth from starting to smoke, but smokers seldom encounter smoking cessation messages that offer realistic quit strategies. Instead, too many messages offer overly simplistic solutions. Furthermore, smokers in many states continue to find smoking permitted in bars – a place that typically triggers the desire to smoke due to associations between drinking and smoking. Arguments favoring smoking bans have concentrated on the health benefits to those who want to avoid second‐hand smoke but have neglected to address the added benefits to smokers.

Practical implications

Creators of messages can focus more specifically on successful quit strategies, and legislators can add a compelling argument for banning smoking in bars and restaurants.


The article calls for an end to misplaced thinking that leads to ineffective campaign message strategy and resistance to smoking bans for bars and restaurants.



Wolburg, J.M. (2008), "Smoking cessation: why do smokers fail?", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 72-73.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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