Introduction: The burden of tobacco-related disease is not uniformly distributed across racial/ ethnic groups. Differences in smoking duration by race/ethnicity may contribute to this disparity. Previous studies have examined racial/ethnic differences in smoking duration among ever smokers (former and current smokers combined). It is unknown if racial/ethnic differences in smoking duration are evident among quitters. This study examined racial/ethnic differences in duration of smoking among former smokers in the United States. Methods: We studied 6030 white, black, and Mexican-American former smokers (3647 men and 2383 women) aged 20-79 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 through 2012. Mean differences in smoking duration by race/ethnicity were estimated using linear regression models. Results: After adjustment for demographics, age at smoking initiation and smoking intensity, compared to white men, black men smoked for 2.3 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3, 3.3) years longer before quitting and Mexican-American men for 0.2 (95% CI:-1.6, 1.2) years less before quitting. Compared to white women, black women smoked for 1.9 (95% CI: 0.7, 3.0) years longer before quitting and Mexican-American women for 0.9 (95% CI:-2.4, 0.5) years less before quitting. Conclusions: In a representative sample of US adults, black former smokers continued smoking for longer periods before quitting compared to white former smokers. These findings support the need for smoking cessation efforts that address racial/ethnic differences in smoking behaviors. The longer time to quit among black former smokers should be investigated as an explanation for racial/ethnic disparities in smoking-associated diseases. Implications: In a representative sample of US adults that successfully quit smoking, the timing of smoking cessation differed by race/ethnicity with blacks smoking for longer periods before quitting compared to whites. Racial/ethnic differences in duration of smoking among former smokers differed by participant age and age at smoking initiation. These findings support the need for smoking cessation efforts that address racial/ethnic differences in smoking behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health