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Giuseppe Giordano

Research team manager

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Changes in social capital and cigarette smoking behavior over time : A population-based panel study of temporal relationships


  • Martin Lindström
  • Giuseppe N. Giordano

Summary, in English

Introduction: Identifying factors that influence individuals' smoking behavior remains a huge public health concern. This study aimed to investigate changes in individuals' cigarette smoking while considering well-known smoking determinants, including social capital, its presence being postulated to reduce smoking. Methods: From British Household Panel Survey data, two baseline smoking cohorts were created ("smoking" and "not smoking"). The same individuals from this nationally representative sample (NT = 8114, aged 16-91 years) were interviewed on four occasions between years 2000 and 2007 to investigate changes in cigarette smoking behavior. Logistic regression models with random effects compensated for within-individual behavior over time. Temporal pathways were investigated by lagging independent variables (t - 1) in relation to our cigarette-use outcome at time (t). Results: Active social participation at (t - 1) was positively associated with smoking cessation at (t) (odds ratio [OR] = 1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.07-1.82]). Separating from one's spouse at (t - 1) increased risk for smoking relapse/initiation at (t) (OR = 6.63; 95% CI [1.70-28.89]). Conversely, being married protected against smoking cigarettes (OR = 1.87; 95% CI [1.15-3.04]). These associations held in our robustness checks. Conclusions: Initial marital breakdown predicted a high risk of smoking relapse/initiation. The timing of this life event provides a critical window where adverse smoking behavior might occur. Conversely, the positive effects of active social participation on cigarette cessation remained consistent, its absence further predicting smoking relapse/initiation. Robustness of results confirms the important role that active participation has on cigarette smoking behavior. Group smoking cessation interventions could harness participatory elements to better achieve their goals. Implications: By investigating temporal relationships between well-known smoking determinants and cigarette smoking outcomes, we identified that being "separated" (not "divorced") at time (t) predicted a higher risk of smoking relapse/initiation at (t). Tailored health messages could be employed to highlight the increased risk of cigarette smoking relapse/initiation during this stressful life event. Conversely, active social participation (a common social capital proxy) consistently predicted smoking cessation over time. Future group smoking cessation interventions could be designed explicitly to harness participatory elements to better achieve their goals.


  • Social Medicine and Health Policy
  • Centre for Economic Demography
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health

Publishing year







Nicotine & Tobacco Research





Document type

Journal article


Oxford University Press


  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology



Research group

  • Social Medicine and Health Policy


  • ISSN: 1469-994X