Introduction: Although recent research indicates that many Latino smokers are nondaily smokers or daily smokers who smoke at a low level (<or =5 cigarettes/day), almost no research has investigated the characteristics of low-level smokers because such individuals are typically excluded from clinical trial research.
Methods: The present study examined the associations of daily smoking level and demographics, tobacco dependence, withdrawal, and abstinence during a specific quit attempt among 280 Spanish-speaking Latino smokers (54% male) who participated in a clinical trial of a telephone counseling intervention. Daily smokers were classified as low-level (1-5 cigarettes/day; n = 81), light (6-10 cigarettes/day; n = 99), or moderate/heavy smokers (> or =11 cigarettes/day; n = 100). Data were collected prior to the quit attempt and at 5 and 12 weeks postquit.
Results: Results yielded three key findings. First, smoking level was positively associated with the total score and 12 of 13 subscale scores on a comprehensive, multidimensional measure of tobacco dependence. Low-level smokers consistently reported the least dependence, and moderate/heavy smokers reported the most dependence on tobacco. Second, low-level smokers reported the least craving in pre- to postcessation longitudinal analyses. Third, despite significant differences on dependence and craving, low-level smoking was not associated with abstinence. Smoking level was not associated with demographic variables.
Discussion: This is a preliminary step in understanding factors influencing tobacco dependence and smoking cessation among low-level Spanish-speaking Latino smokers, a subgroup with high prevalence in the Latino population.