Background. This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of the 'Five- Day Plan to Stop Smoking' (the 'Five-Day Plan') in helping smokers to give up the habit and to identify the characteristics of those smokers who succeeded in quitting. Methods. Five hundred and forty-five smokers (363 men, mean age 41 years, and 182 women, mean age 37 years) of a total of 683 (80%) who participated in eight courses of the Five-Day Plan, held in northeastern Italy between October 1985 and April 1988, constitute the study group. They were contacted from 28 to 70 months after their participation in the Five- Day Plan. Results. Approximately 70% of smokers tried to stop smoking for fear of smoking-related health hazards, and 15% (18% of men and 9% of women, P <0.001) of these stopped because of smoking-related diseases or symptoms. Overall, 18% of the participants interviewed relapsed to cigarette smoking within 1 month after having taken the course, 44% within 1 year, and 59% after 5 years. Higher rates of recidivism after the Five-Day Plan were recorded among women than among men (55 and 39% after 1 year, respectively). Among men, older age and heavy smoking were significantly associated with a reduced probability of relapsing. Among women, a high level of education was the only significant predictor of smoking recidivism. Conclusions. These data indicate that the Five-Day Plan is useful in helping smokers who are already predisposed to quit their habit, but its efficacy seems to be largely restricted to men, in particular to older and heavier smokers.
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