Background: This study examined two main hypotheses: a) Polish immigrants' smoking estimates are greater than their Irish counterparts (b) Polish immigrants purchasing cigarettes from Poland smoke "heavier" (>/= 20 cigarettes a day) when compared to those purchasing cigarettes from Ireland. The study also set out to identify significant predictors of 'current' smoking (some days and everyday) among the Polish immigrants.
Methods: Dublin residents of Polish origin (n = 1,545) completed a previously validated Polish questionnaire in response to an advertisement in a local Polish lifestyle magazine over 5 weekends (July-August, 2007). The Office of Tobacco Control telephone-based monthly survey data were analyzed for the Irish population in Dublin for the same period (n = 484).
Results: Age-sex adjusted smoking estimates were: 47.6% (95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 47.3%; 48.0%) among the Poles and 27.8% (95% CI: 27.2%; 28.4%) among the general Irish population (p < 0.001). Of the 57% of smokers (n = 345/606) who purchased cigarettes solely from Poland and the 33% (n = 198/606) who purchased only from Ireland, 42.6% (n = 147/345) and 41.4% (n = 82/198) were "heavy" smokers, respectively (p = 0.79). Employment (Odds Ratio [OR]: 2.89; 95% CI: 1.25-6.69), lower education (OR: 3.76; 95%CI: 2.46-5.74), and a longer stay in Ireland (>24 months) were significant predictors of current smoking among the Poles. An objective validation of the self-reported smoking history of a randomly selected sub-sample immigrant group, using expired carbon monoxide (CO) measurements, showed a highly significant correlation coefficient (r = 0.64) of expired CO levels with the reported number of cigarettes consumed (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Polish immigrants' smoking estimates are higher than their Irish counterparts, and particularly if employed, with only primary-level education, and are overseas >2 years.