Social capital and peer influence of tobacco consumption: A cross-sectional study among household heads in rural Uttar Pradesh, India

Md Zabir Hasan, Joanna E. Cohen, Joanna E. Cohen, David Bishai, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Krishna D. Rao, Akshay Ahuja, Shivam Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Having the world's second-largest tobacco-consuming population, tobacco control is a priority agenda of the Indian Government. Yet, there is no evidence of how peer influence and nature of social relationships - defined as social capital - affect tobacco use. This study aimed to explore the role of social capital and peer influence on tobacco consumption among household heads in rural Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. Design and setting This study was embedded within the baseline evaluation of Project Samuday. A cross-sectional multistage cluster survey was implemented in six census blocks of Hardoi and Sitapur districts of UP from June to August 2017. Self-reported tobacco consumption status of randomly selected 6218 household heads (≥18 years; men vs women=5312 vs 906) was assessed from 346 rural communities. Peer influence of tobacco use was measured by the non-self cluster proportion of tobacco consumption among respondents. Community engagement, social support, trust and social cohesion were separately measured as unique facets of social capital both at individual and community levels using the Shortened Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool in India (SASCAT-I). The explanatory power of covariates was assessed using gender-stratified generalised estimating equations (GEE) with robust-variance estimator. Result Tobacco consumption patterns were starkly different for men and women (71% vs 14%). The peer influence only affected men (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.10, 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.16, p<0.01), whereas women were more likely to consume tobacco if they were more engaged with community organisations (AOR=1.33, 95% CI=1.07 to 1.66, p<0.01). Conclusion Gender alters the way social engagement affects tobacco use in rural India. Countering peer influence on Indian men should be prioritised as a tobacco control strategy. Moreover, as gender mainstreaming is a critical egalitarian agenda in India, further research is needed to understand how social engagement affects tobacco consumption behaviours among women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere037202
JournalBMJ open
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 30 2020


  • epidemiology
  • health & safety
  • public health
  • social medicine
  • statistics & research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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