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Light and intermittent smokers (LITS) represent almost 50% of all current smokers. Research is needed to understand smoking motives among adult light smokers.
To explore smoking cues and motivators among a racially diverse sample of adult LITS (≤10 CPD). In addition, we explored differences between native (always smoked ≤10), and converted (former heavier) LITS.
We used purposive sampling to recruit participants who were native and converted LITS and to include equal numbers of African Americans, Whites and Latinos. We coded and analyzed transcripts using a stage approach to identify themes.
Four main themes emerged that may be unique to light smokers and suggests potential strategies for intervention: (1) smoking in response to cues and control, (2) identifying as a smoker, (3) concern about health consequences, and (4) other priorities influencing smoking. There were some differences among smoking cues and motivators by race and ethnicity, and differences between native and converted LITS.
Overall, LITS reported drivers of smoking that were unrelated to symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Even when experiencing salient cues, our LITS cohort expressed the ability to assert control over smoking by abstaining when situational contexts made smoking inconvenient.
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