Social Determinants of Change in Smoking Status over a 26-Year Follow up Period among Middle-Aged and Older Americans

TitleSocial Determinants of Change in Smoking Status over a 26-Year Follow up Period among Middle-Aged and Older Americans
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsAssari, S
JournalJournal of Biosciences and Medicines
Keywordsrace, Smoking, socioeconomic status, Tobacco Use

Educational attainment and income are among major socioeconomic status (SES) indicators that are inversely associated with cigarette smoking. Marginalization-related Diminished Returns (MDRs), however, are weaker protective effects of SES indicators for racial and ethnic minority groups compared to non-Hispanic White people. The aim is to test whether racial and ethnic differences exist in the effects of educational attainment and income on cigarette smoking of middle-aged and older American adults. This is a 26-year longitudinal study using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative study of middle-aged and older adults in the US. A total number of 11,316 middle-aged and older adults (age ≥ 50) were followed for up to 26 years. The independent variables were educational attainment and income. The dependent variables were always smoking and being quitters over the follow-up time. Age, gender, self-rated health, and chronic medical conditions were the covariates. Race/ethnicity was the moderator. Logistic regressions were used to analyze the data. Most participants were never smokers (n = 7950), followed by quitters (n = 1765), always smokers (n = 1272), and initiators (n = 329). Overall, high educational attainment (OR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.90 - 0.95) and income (OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.99 - 0.99) reduced the odds of being always smoker. High educational attainment (OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.02 - 1.08) was associated with higher odds of being a quitter. Ethnicity, however, showed significant interactions with education on both outcomes suggesting that the effects of educational attainment on reducing the odds of always being a smoker (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 1.14 - 1.35) and increasing the odds of quitting (OR = 0.84, 95% CI = 0.75 - 0.93) were smaller for Hispanics than non-Hispanics. In the United States, middle-aged and older Hispanic adults remain at high risk of smoking cigarettes despite high educational attainment. That is, high educational attainment may better help non-Hispanic than Hispanic middle-aged and older adults to avoid cigarette smoking. As a result, we may observe a more than expected burden of tobacco use in middle class Hispanic middle-aged and older adults. Policymakers should not reduce racial and ethnic tobacco inequalities to SES gap, as ethnic tobacco disparities may persist in high SES levels as well.

Citation Key11570