Treating tobacco dependence to aid re-employment among job-seekers: A randomized controlled trial

Prev Med. 2020 Dec;141:106259. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106259. Epub 2020 Oct 3.


Introduction: U.S. reductions in smoking have not been experienced equally. Smoking prevalence is greater among persons of lower education, lower income, and unemployed. We evaluated whether a cessation intervention for job-seekers would result in significantly fewer cigarettes smoked per day and a greater likelihood of tobacco abstinence and re-employment, compared to the control condition at 6-months follow-up.

Methods: Unemployed, job-seekers who smoked daily were recruited from five employment development departments in the San Francisco Bay Area, October 2015 to February 2018. Intention to quit smoking was not required. Participants were randomized to a brief motivationally-tailored, computer-assisted counseling intervention or referred to a toll-free quitline. Midstudy, 8-weeks of combination nicotine replacement was added to the intervention. Expired carbon monoxide and cotinine testing verified abstinence. Data were analyzed fall 2019.

Results: Participants (N = 360; 70% men; 43% African American, 27% non-Hispanic Caucasian; 19% unhoused) averaged 12 cigarettes/day (SD = 6), 67% smoked within 30 min of wakening; 27% were in preparation stage to quit. During the 6-month study period, intervention participants were more likely to make a quit attempt (71% vs. 58%, p = .021) and reported significantly greater reduction in cigarettes/day than control participants (median reduction: 6.9 vs. 5.0, p = .038); however, bioconfirmed abstinence (3%) and re-employment (36%) did not differ by treatment group.

Conclusions: In a diverse sample with economic hardships, quit attempts and smoking reduction were greater in the intervention group; however, few achieved abstinence, and neither abstinence nor re-employment differed by condition. A priority group, further research is needed on smoking and re-employment.

Keywords: Job-seeking; Randomized controlled trial; Smoking; Tobacco; Unemployment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotine
  • San Francisco
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices
  • Tobacco Use Disorder*


  • Nicotine