Introduction: Attempts to quit smoking have increased in recent years, but the patterns of variations over time are unknown. We aimed at describing time- and sex-related changes in a population of 2,231 subjects who adhered to a smoking-cessation programme lasting 13 years in Italy.
Methods: We measured baseline expired carbon monoxide (expired-CO), Fagerstrom nicotine dependence, Q-MAT test, Zung depression and anxiety scale, Hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS).
Results: Study population included 1,278 men and 953 women who smoked a median of 25 (interquartile range, IQR: 20–32) and 20 (IQR: 20–30) cigarettes/day, respectively (p < 0.001). The proportion of female smokers increased from 37.5% in 2001–2003 to 46.9% in 2010–2013 (p = 0.003). There was a significant time-related reduction of median daily cigarette consumption, with a more noticeable decrease in men. Median expired-CO (parts per million (ppm)) increased only in women, from 18 (IQR: 14–23) in 2001–03 to 20 (IQR: 14–28) in 2010–13 (p = 0.001), whereas Fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence did not vary. Differences in psychological characteristics in the last 3 years showed that women were more clinically depressed than men (16.6% versus 7.6%, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Despite a decrease in the number of daily cigarettes with time, expired-CO tends to increase in women, who are also more clinically depressed and anxious than men. A personalised approach to specific subgroups of smokers, with special emphasis on a psychological support for women, seems appropriate.