Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic variations in duration of smoking: results from 2003, 2006 and 2007 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey

J Public Health (Oxf). 2010 Jun;32(2):210-8. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdp104. Epub 2009 Nov 5.


Background: Little is known about racial/ethnic and socioeconomic variations in the duration of smoking. The goal of this research was to examine these variations.

Methods: Data came from the 2003, 2006 and 2007 Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey. The analysis was limited to ever-smokers (n = 117,168). The outcome was number of years of daily smoking. Survival analysis was employed to predict smoking duration.

Results: American Indians with 32 years had the highest median duration of smoking, followed by Blacks and 'other' races with 30 years, Whites with 28 years and Hispanics with 24 years. The difference in the duration of smoking between Blacks and Whites disappeared after adjusting for poverty. Individuals in poverty had a median duration of smoking of 40 years, while those with a family income of at least three times that of the poverty threshold had a median duration of 22 years. Median duration of smoking was 40 years among individuals without a high-school diploma and 18 years among those with a bachelors or higher degree.

Conclusion: This research revealed large variations in smoking duration between racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Longer exposure to tobacco among groups that are already disadvantaged is likely to exacerbate existing health disparities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology