Correlates of smoker identity among intermittent and light daily young adult smokers: Findings from Wave 1 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study

Addict Behav. 2019 Nov:98:106034. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106034. Epub 2019 Jun 24.


Identifying as a 'smoker' has been associated with many cigarette smoking-related behaviors, including less frequent and intense cigarette use. Additional smoking behaviors (e.g., use of cannabis or cigars) also may contribute to self-identification as a 'smoker'. This study compared correlates of identifying as a 'smoker' and measurement strategies for non-daily cigarette consumption among young-adult intermittent and light daily smokers. Using data from Wave 1 of the PATH Study, different measurements of past 30-day non-daily cigarette use were evaluated. Weighted logistic regression models were used to compare associations with self-identification as a smoker among 18-24 year-old intermittent and light daily smokers (n = 1531). Use of other smoked products (combustible tobacco, cannabis) and other documented correlates of smoker identity were evaluated. As frequency of monthly smoking increased, self-identification as a smoker increased (1-5 days = 24%, 6-19 days = 48%, 20-29 days = 78%, light daily smokers = 93%, daily smokers using >5 cigarettes per day = 99%). Self-reported smoking status 12 months ago significantly contributed to current identification as a smoker. Smoking cigars daily or using cannabis in the past 30 days were each positively associated with smoker identity. Different measurement approaches to non-daily cigarette use offer different advantages in terms of interpretability and granularity of information. Compared to daily smokers, non-daily smokers exhibit significant variability in identifying as a smoker, and systematic correlates of smoker identification are apparent. These findings may serve to enhance understanding of non-daily smokers and potential targets for intervention among this growing subpopulation of tobacco users.

Keywords: Cannabis use; Combusted tobacco; Intermittent smokers; Non-daily smoking; Smoker identity; Young adult.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cigar Smoking / adverse effects
  • Cigar Smoking / epidemiology
  • Cigar Smoking / psychology
  • Correlation of Data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology
  • Self-Assessment
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult