NIH Research Festival
Background: Light and intermittent smokers (LITS) have been the fastest growing segment of smokers in the U.S. during the past two decades. National survey data indicates the prevalence of nondaily smokers ranges from about 20% to nearly 40%. Defining the characteristics and health consequences for this behavior is a critical priority. In this work we addressed the heterogeneity question in LITS using national survey data. Methods: We analyzed demographic and behavioral data from three U.S. population-based surveys: 2012 NHIS, 2012 NSDUH, and 2011-2012 NHANES. Surveys were pooled to increase sample power, missing data was imputed and common characteristics were compared across surveys. Demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, income and education were examined in relation to their association with light and/or intermittent smoking. A multinomial outcome variable included four combinations of light and intermittent smoking. In multinomial multivariate models, smoking behavior (e.g. age of smoking initiation), drug use, and mental health indicators were evaluated. Results: We observed specific smoking and behavioral characteristics, specifically related to mental health components, which distinguished categories within LITS. We also detected differences among LITS, former and never smokers across these behaviors and across race/ethnicity, age, education, and income levels. Conclusion: Our results provide evidence that LITS have specific smoking, drug use, and mental health patterns that distinguish them across each category of LITS and from former and never smokers. These findings can translate into preventive policies targeted at ethnic/racial, socioeconomic and behavioral differences because smoking patterns can vary according to these factors.
Scientific Focus Area: Epidemiology
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