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Social smoking among intermittent smokers

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 11:58 authored by Shiffman, S, Li, X, Dunbar, MS, Stuart FergusonStuart Ferguson, Tindle, HA, Scholl, SM

Background: “Social smoking” – smoking mostly or even only with others – may be an important pattern that implies smoking motivated extrinsically by social influences. Non-daily smokers (intermittent smokers; ITS) are often assumed to be social smokers, with some authors even assuming that all ITS are social smokers (SS+). We sought to identify and characterize social smokers in a sample of ITS.

Methods: 204 adult ITS (smoking 4–27 days/month) recorded the circumstances of smoking in their natural settings using Ecological Momentary Assessment, while also recording their circumstances in nonsmoking moments. SS+ were defined as ITS who were with others when they smoked most of their cigarettes, and who were ≥50% more likely to be with others when smoking than when not.

Results: Only 13% of ITS were SS+. Although defined solely on the basis of presence of others, SS+ showed a distinct pattern of smoking across multiple dimensions: compared to other ITS (who were significantly less likely to smoke when with others), SS+ smoking was more associated with socializing, being with friends and acquaintances, drinking alcohol, weekends, evening or nighttime, being in other people's homes, but not their own home. SS+ smoking was low in the morning and increased in the evening. SS+ smoked fewer days/week and were less dependent, but did not differ demographically.

Conclusions: Social smoking does constitute a highly distinct smoking pattern, but is not common among adult ITS.


Publication title

Drug and Alcohol Dependence








School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology


Elsevier Sci Ireland Ltd

Place of publication


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Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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