Spousal influence on smoking behaviors in a US community sample of newly married couples

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Dec;61(12):2557-67. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.05.005. Epub 2005 Jun 23.


Among married couples, partners often have similar characteristics and behaviors. Among individuals who smoke cigarettes, it is not uncommon for them to have a partner who also smokes. In fact, having a partner who smokes can influence the spouse's initiation of smoking, or return to smoking after a previous quit attempt. Additionally, it is possible that a nonsmoking partner can influence his/her spouse to stop smoking. Participants for this research are from a community sample of couples in the United States. They were recruited at the time they applied for their marriage license and followed through to their second wedding anniversary. Logistic regression models, controlling for demographics, were utilized to determine if a partner's smoking status predicted smoking initiation or relapse over the early years of marriage. Overall, there was some support that a partner's smoking status did influence the other's smoking, although more support was found for spousal influence on relapse than cessation. There was more support for husband's influence compared to wife's influence, nonsmoking wives were more likely to resume smoking in the early years of their marriage if their partners were smokers. Wives' smoking, however, did not predict husband initiation of smoking. These findings suggest that during the transition into marriage, spouses do influence their partners' behaviors. In particular, women are more likely to resume smoking, or return to smoking if their partners smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Licensure
  • Male
  • Marriage / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Spouses / statistics & numerical data
  • United States