Alcohol consumption is common among young adults. But a recent study conducted by Nan Jiang, PhD, of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California in San Francisco, revealed that a large percentage of young adults also smoke when they are at bars. Despite the fact that many California cities have instituted nonsmoking policies in public places, the results of this study suggest that young adults who attend bars and consume alcohol are much more likely to smoke, if only a little, than those who do not.
Alcohol use has long been associated with smoking. But this newest research sheds light on different drinking and smoking patterns and how they affect one another. Additionally, Jiang illuminated which smokers were more likely to try to quit smoking. This information can help direct the focus of interventions at those most at risk for smoking and those most motivated to quit.
For the study, Jiang surveyed nearly 1,000 young adults between the ages of 21 and 26. The participants were interviewed while at a bar and asked about their frequency of alcohol consumption and binge drinking, their smoking frequency, and quantity and quit attempts. The results showed that light, moderate, and heavy smokers all reported drinking at bars and also that being in attendance at a bar made quitting smoking more difficult. Binge drinking was directly associated with smoking, especially among light smokers. Alcohol consumption had a negative effect on quit attempts for moderate and light smokers, but a positive effect on quit attempts among heavy smokers.
This was an interesting finding and could be explained by the report from participants that smoking was seen as a socially accepted behavior at bars and when drinking. This finding also underscores the importance of focusing smoking cessation efforts at young adults who only smoke occasionally, and especially those who only smoke when drinking alcohol.
Although this study did not examine how light smoking may progress to heavy smoking, the risks associated with smoking are the same for light smokers as they are for heavy smokers. Therefore, the need for cessation interventions is equal among both groups. Jiang added, “Future tobacco control efforts should prioritize bars and nightclubs to reach this concentrated high-risk population.”
Jiang, Nan, PhD, and Ling, Pamela MMD, MPH. (2013). Impact of alcohol use and bar attendance on smoking and quit attempts among young adult bar patrons. American Journal of Public Health 103.5 (2013): E53-61. ProQuest. Web.
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