Sociodemographic and Psychological Characteristics of Very Light Smoking Among Women in Emerging Adulthood, National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 2011
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Sociodemographic and Psychological Characteristics of Very Light Smoking Among Women in Emerging Adulthood, National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 2011

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Although smoking prevalence and average cigarette consumption have declined, very light smoking (5 or fewer cigarettes per day) has increased. Very light smoking is common among young adult women. This study examines the differences between the sociodemographic and psychosocial factors associated with women in emerging adulthood who are very light smokers and similar women who are at other smoking levels.


    The sample consisted of 9,789 women aged 18 to 25 years who took part in the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States. Variables were sociodemographic factors, psychological adjustment, substance misuse, smoking attitudes, daily smoking, age at smoking initiation, and nicotine dependence. Analyses used were χ2 and multinomial logistic regression.


    Almost a fifth of participants and about three-fifths of smokers were very light smokers (no more than 5 cigarettes per day). Very light smokers were relatively more likely than other smokers to be young (aged 18 to 20), to be from a minority group, and to have some college education. They also were less likely to be married. The characteristics of very light smokers (poor psychological adjustment and tendency to misuse other substances) were similar to the characteristics of other smokers. However, very light smokers were more likely than other smokers to recognize high risks in smoking, less likely to report nicotine dependence, and more likely to be nondaily smokers.


    Prevention programs targeting women in emerging adulthood need to recognize the prevalence of very light smoking in this population. Although comorbid psychological disorders and substance use present challenges, very light smokers’ perception of higher smoking risks and lower nicotine dependence compared with that of other smokers provide intervention opportunities.

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