Background: Over the past 50 years there was a substantial decrease in the prevalence of smoking in Italy. The objective of this work is to describe attempts to quit and cessation success in Italian smokers. Methods: A surveillance on health-related behaviors (PASSI) was conducted in 2007-13 on a sample of 203 610 Italian adults 25-64 years of age. An analysis of smokers' characteristics and behaviors was performed, focusing on attempts to quit and quit success. Data from national surveys (ISTAT) from 1983 to 2013 (Italian adults, 25-64 years of age, 1983: 46 634; 1987: 40 915; 1990: 36 622; 2000: 77 531; 2005: 71 032; 2013: 64 205) were used to explore if a cessation trend in Italy exists. Results: Smokers who quit in the previous year and were still abstinent when interviewed increased from 1990 to 2013. In the years 2011-13, 38% of people who had smoked in the last 12 months reported at least a quit attempt during the same period and 7% were still abstinent when interviewed. An association of successful recent quit attempts with higher educational level, absence of economic difficulties and younger age was found. In the years 2007-13, the great majority tried to stop unaided. Having received assistance from a cessation program did not increase the probability of enduring abstinence. Conclusions: In Italy interventions to drive more smokers to quit should be focused in particular on disadvantaged groups. Initiatives have to be studied not only to incentive more smokers to try to quit, but also to maintain abstinence over time. © The Author 2016.