Educational Attainment and Quitting Smoking: A Structural Equation Model Approach
Secondary and Middle Grades Education
In the United States, disparities in smoking prevalence and cessation by socioeconomic status are well documented, but there is limited research on reasons why and none conducted in a national sample assessing multiple potential mechanisms. We identified smoking and cessation-related behavioral and environmental variables associated with both educational attainment and quitting success. We used a structural equation model of cross-sectional data from respondents ≥25 years from the United States 2010–2011 Tobacco Use Supplement-Current Population Survey. Quitting success was defined as former (n = 2607) versus continuing smokers (n = 7636); categories of educational attainment were ≤high school degree, some college/college degree, and advanced degree. Results indicated that using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) >1 month and having a home smoking restriction were associated with both educational attainment and quitting success. Those with lower educational attainment versus those with an advanced degree were less likely to report using NRT >1 month (≤high school: β = −0.50, p < 0.001; college: β = −0.24, p = 0.019). Use of NRT >1 month, in turn, was positively associated with quitting success (β = 0.25, p < 0.001). Those with lower educational attainment were also less likely to report a home smoking restriction (≤high school: β = −0.42, p < 0.001; college: β = −0.21, p = 0.009). Having a home smoking restriction was positively associated with quitting success (β = 0.50, p < 0.001). Results were similar with income substituted for education. Using NRT >1 month and having a home smoking restriction are two strategies that may explain the association between low education and lower cessation success; these strategies should be further tested for their potential ability to mitigate this association.
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