Self-identified "social smokers" may be considered a high-risk group with particular challenges for cessation, reports a national study from the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers compared the association between three different definitions of social smoking - a common pattern among young adults - and cessation indicators. The three different definitions of social smoking they used included: (1) self-identified; (2) smoking mainly with others; or (3) smoking only with others. They used a Web-enabled, cross-sectional national survey of 1,528 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 from a panel maintained by the research group.

The total sample was ethnically diverse, with 61 percent identifying themselves as White American, 13.9 percent as African American, 18.3 percent as Hispanic American, 3.9 percent as other non-Hispanic and 3 percent as biracial Hispanic. The sample was equally distributed between men and women. Researchers found that self-identified social smokers were less likely to have cessation intentions; whereas behavior social smokers (mainly or only smoked with others) were more likely than self-identified social smokers to have cessation intentions or attempts.

The study's authors suggest, "Smoking cessation in young adults - particularly among social smokers - is both a challenge and an opportunity. ...Clinicians and researchers need to address the differences between self-identification and behavior as a social smoker to develop more effective smoking cessation strategies tailored to these two distinct groups."

"Social Smoking among Young Adults: Investigation of Intentions and Attempts to Quit."
Anna V. Song, PhD
American Journal of Public Health