Cigarette smoking and advice to quit in a national sample of homeless adults

Am J Prev Med. 2010 Aug;39(2):164-72. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.03.024.


Background: Cigarette smoking is common among homeless people, but its characteristics in this vulnerable population have not been studied at a national level. Whether homeless smokers receive advice to quit from healthcare providers is also unknown.

Purpose: To determine the prevalence and predictors of current cigarette smoking, smoking cessation, and receipt of clinician advice to quit in a national sample of homeless adults.

Methods: This study analyzed data from 966 adult respondents to the 2003 Health Care for the Homeless User Survey, representing more than 436,000 people nationally. Using multivariable logistic regression, the independent predictors of smoking, quitting, and receiving advice to quit were identified. Analyses were conducted in 2008-2009.

Results: The prevalence of current smoking was 73%. The lifetime quit rate among ever smokers was 9%. Among past-year smokers, 54% reported receiving clinician advice to quit. Factors independently associated with current smoking included out-of-home placement in childhood (AOR=2.79, 95% CI=1.03, 7.52); victimization while homeless (AOR=2.36, 95% CI=1.15, 4.83); past-year employment (AOR=2.52, 95% CI=1.13, 5.58); and prior illicit drug use (AOR=7.21, 95% CI=3.11, 16.7) or problem alcohol use (AOR=7.42, 95% CI=2.51, 21.9). Respondents with multiple homeless episodes had higher odds of receiving quit advice (AOR=2.51, 95% CI=1.30, 4.83) but lower odds of quitting (AOR=0.47, 95% CI=0.29, 0.78).

Conclusions: Compared to the general population, homeless people are far more likely to smoke and much less likely to quit, even though more than half of smokers received quit advice in the past year. Interventions for homeless smokers should address the unique comorbidities and vulnerabilities of this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Homeless Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult