Aims: To assess the impact of involuntary job loss due to plant closure or layoff on relapse to smoking and smoking intensity among older workers. DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS, SAMPLE: Data come from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of older Americans aged 51-61 in 1991 followed every 2 years beginning in 1992. The 3052 participants who were working at the initial wave and had any history of smoking comprise the main sample.
Methods: Primary outcomes are smoking relapse at wave 2 (1994) among baseline former smokers, and smoking quantity at wave 2 among baseline current smokers. As reported at the wave 2 follow-up, 6.8% of the sample experienced an involuntary job loss between waves 1 and 2.
Findings: Older workers have over two times greater odds of relapse subsequent to involuntary job loss than those who did not. Further, those who were current smokers prior to displacement that did not obtain new employment were found to be smoking more cigarettes, on average, post-job loss.
Conclusions: The stress of job loss, along with other significant changes associated with leaving one's job, which would tend to increase cigarette consumption, must outweigh the financial hardship which would tend to reduce consumption. This highlights job loss as an important health risk factor for older smokers.