Smokers are not a homogeneous group and smoking is not a uniform behaviour: profiling psychosocial characteristics differentiates between smoking patterns.
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Much of our understanding of ‘smokers’ is based the subset of the group that smoke daily, under the assumption that smokers are a relatively homogeneous group. However, there is a growing body of evidence which recognises other ‘kinds’ of smoking which are not characterised by nicotine dependence, fundamentally challenging many of our conceptions about the nature of ‘smoking’. Despite this relatively recent recognition, little has been done to reformulate our understanding of smokers as a heterogeneous group with varying characteristics and motivations. In the present study, differences in demographics, personality, self-efficacy and affect are investigated between three smoking-outcome groups – never smokers, daily smokers and non-daily smokers. Multinomial logistic regression analysis revealed that conscientiousness, age, SES, level of education, and proportion of peer smoking differentially impact the three outcome groups. Non-daily smokers were also found to be significantly less likely to intend to quit than daily smokers, and there was a trend for participants who had been unsuccessful in their cessation attempts to score lower on neuroticism, agreeableness and conscientiousness than participants who had successfully quit smoking. These findings have important implications for public health campaigns, suggesting that to improve the efficacy of smoking campaigns a clearer understanding of the variety of target audiences, their different characteristics, motivations and intentions needs to be reached.