African Americans suffer disproportionately from the adverse health consequences of smoking, and also report substantially lower socioeconomic status than Whites and other racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. Although socioeconomic disadvantage is known to have a negative influence on smoking cessation rates and overall health, little is known about the influence of socioeconomic status on smoking cessation specifically among African Americans. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to characterize the impact of several individual- and area-level indicators of socioeconomic status on smoking cessation among African Americans. Data were collected as part of a smoking cessation intervention study for African American smokers (N = 379) recruited from the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area, who participated in the study between 2005 and 2007. The separate and combined influences of individual-level (insurance status, unemployment, education, and income) and area-level (neighborhood unemployment, education, income, and poverty) indicators of socioeconomic status on continuous smoking abstinence were examined across time intervals using continuation ratio logit modeling. Individual-level analyses indicated that unemployment was significantly associated with reduced odds of smoking abstinence, while higher income was associated with greater odds of abstinence. However, only unemployment remained a significant predictor of abstinence when unemployment and income were included in the model together. Area-level analyses indicated that greater neighborhood unemployment and poverty were associated with reduced odds of smoking abstinence, while greater neighborhood education was associated with higher odds of abstinence. However, only neighborhood unemployment remained significantly associated with abstinence status when individual-level income and unemployment were included in the model. Overall, findings suggest that individual- and area-level unemployment have a negative impact on smoking cessation among African Americans. Addressing unemployment through public policy and within smoking cessation interventions, and providing smoking cessation treatment for the unemployed may have a beneficial impact on tobacco-related health disparities.
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