Economically disadvantaged smokers not intending to stop may benefit from interventions aimed at reducing their smoking. This study assessed the effects of a behavioral intervention promoting an increase in physical activity versus usual care in a pilot randomized controlled trial.
Disadvantaged smokers who wanted to reduce but not quit were randomized to either a counseling intervention of up to 12 weeks to support smoking reduction and increased physical activity (n = 49) or usual care (n = 50). Data at 16 weeks were collected for various smoking and physical activity outcomes. Primary analyses consisted of an intention to treat analysis based on complete case data. Secondary analyses explored the impact of handling missing data.
Compared with controls, intervention smokers were more likely to initiate a quit attempt (36 vs. 10%; odds ratio 5.05, [95% CI: 1.10; 23.15]), and a greater proportion achieved at least 50% reduction in cigarettes smoked (63 vs. 32%; 4.21 [1.32; 13.39]). Postquit abstinence measured by exhaled carbon monoxide at 4-week follow-up showed promising differences between groups (23% vs. 6%; 4.91 [0.80; 30.24]). No benefit of intervention on physical activity was found. Secondary analyses suggested that the standard missing data assumption of "missing" being equivalent to "smoking" may be conservative resulting in a reduced intervention effect.
A smoking reduction intervention for economically disadvantaged smokers which involved personal support to increase physical activity appears to be more effective than usual care in achieving reduction and may promote cessation. The effect does not appear to be influenced by an increase in physical activity.