A new study by researchers at EDC’s Center for Research on High Risk Behaviors offers insights into factors that may promote smoking prevention and cessation among young women in economically distressed communities.
In a special issue devoted to smoking cessation in the American Journal of Public Health, HHD researchers Drs. Ann Stueve and Lydia O’Donnell report on data from the Reach for Health study, a longitudinal study that has followed a large sample of urban African American and Latino young people from middle school into early adulthood. Over 500 young women were re-surveyed when they were 19-20 years of age and were asked about their reproductive and childrearing status, smoking history, and experiences of intimate partner violence. Analyses examined whether women who were pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or raising children were more likely to be current smokers, and whether smoking was related to intimate partner violence.
Stueve and O’Donnell found that young women raising children were more likely than those who were not to currently smoke or to have smoked in the past. For instance, 25.9 percent of mothers smoked regularly (defined as smoking weekly or more frequently) compared to 13.2 percent of non-mothers. Women who were currently pregnant or trying to get pregnant did not appear to differ from other women.
Since young mothers are at an increased risk of partner violence, Stueve and O’Donnell also examined whether being the victim of intimate partner violence was a risk factor for smoking or a deterrent to cessation. After controlling for smoking history, parenting status, and other demographic characteristics, they found that women with a history of victimization were more than twice as likely as those who had not reported such experiences to regularly smoke.
These results add to evidence that shows victimization has negative effects in terms of numerous health problems. Stressors of early childrearing, as well as domestic violence, may contribute to ongoing smoking behaviors.
“These results underscore the importance of helping to address the multiple challenges that women living in economically disadvantaged areas face,” says Ann Stueve, Senior Scientist with EDC and lead author of the study. “We also observed that about one-third of the young women who reported regular smoking had attempted to quit during the past year, but that fewer than 10 percent had either attended a smoking cessation class or sought medical advice. Interventions aimed at reducing parenting stress and intimate partner violence may be helpful in reducing smoking among urban women.”
The article, entitled “Continued smoking and smoking cessation among urban young adult women: Findings from the Reach for Health Longitudinal Study,” was published in the August 2007 special issue of the American Journal of Public Health. This entire issue focused on smoking and smoking cessation.
This study is part of the Center’s ongoing work to identify effective strategies to promote health and reduce risks in economically disadvantaged minority communities. Funding for this project came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD).
Originally published on March 1, 2008