Dr. Sandra Echeverria, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and colleagues examined both cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of neighborhood social environment and smoking behavior. The findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
[Photo: Dr. Sandra Echeverria]
The research team focused on the association of the overall neighborhood social environment with smoking, and the of specific neighborhood social factors with change in smoking behavior over time.
This study included 5856 adults aged 45-84 years from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (2000-2012, average follow-up: 7.8 years). Outcomes included current smoking status and smoking intensity (average number of cigarettes smoked per day among baseline smokers). The study assessed neighborhood social environment as a composite score composed of aesthetic quality, safety and social cohesion scales (derived from neighborhood surveys).
As baseline neighborhood social environment composite score increase, there was an associated lower prevalence of smoking at baseline. Neighborhood safety and aesthetic quality were similarly associated with lower smoking prevalence but the association with social cohesion was weaker or null. No significant associations were observed for smoking intensity among baseline smokers. Baseline neighborhood social environment was not associated with changes in smoking risk or intensity over time.
Results suggest that neighborhood social context influences whether older adults smoke, but does not promote smoking cessation or reduction over time.