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To identify predictors of quit attempts and of 3-month abstinence from cigarette smoking.Secondary analysis of data gathered for a two-armed randomized controlled trial with 6-month follow-up.A total of 123 general practices across the United Kingdom.A total of 4397 participants who completed the 6-month follow-up. Participants were categorized on self-reported smoking behaviour at 6-month follow-up as non-attempters (n = 2664), attempted quitters (n = 1548) and successful quitters (n = 185).Demographic characteristics, smoking history and nicotine dependence, cognitive and social–environmental factors measured at baseline were examined as potential predictors of quit attempts and 3-month abstinence.Univariate predictors of quit attempts included commitment [odds ratio (OR) = 11.64, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 8.30–16.32], motivation (OR = 2.10, 95% CI = 1.98–2.22) and determination to quit (OR = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.83–2.05). Successful quitting was associated with being married (OR = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.11–2.05), lower social deprivation (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.30–0.74), higher reading level (OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.19–2.21) and lower nicotine dependence (OR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.29–0.62). Health problems related to smoking and previous quit attempts for 3 months or longer predicted both. In the multivariate analysis, the significant predictors of making a quit attempt were; later stage of readiness to quit (OR = 5.38, 95% CI = 3.67–7.89), motivation (OR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.34–1.62) and determination to quit (OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.05–1.29) and health problems related to smoking (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.18–1.75). For 3-month abstinence, the only significant predictor was not having health problems related to smoking (OR = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.29–0.83).While high motivation and determination to quit is necessary to prompt an attempt to quit smoking, demographic factors and level of nicotine dependence are more important for maintaining abstinence.