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Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Oct;24(10):1849-63. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0262-5. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Psychosocial stress and cigarette smoking persistence, cessation, and relapse over 9-10 years: a prospective study of middle-aged adults in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA,



Year-to-year decreases in smoking in the US have been observed only sporadically in recent years, which suggest a need for intensified efforts to identify those at risk for persistent smoking. To address this need, we examined the association between a variety of psychosocial stressors and smoking persistence, cessation, and relapse over 9-10 years among adults in the United States (n = 4,938, ages 25-74).


Using information provided at baseline and follow-up, participants were categorized as non-smokers, persistent smokers, ex-smokers, and relapsed smokers. Stressors related to relationships, finances, work-family conflict, perceived inequality, neighborhood, discrimination, and past-year family problems were assessed at baseline and follow-up.


High stress at both assessments was associated with greater odds of persistent smoking for stressors related to relationships, finances, work, perceived inequality, past-year family problems, and a summary score. Among respondents who were smokers at baseline, high stress at both time points for relationship stress, perceived inequality, and past-year family problems was associated with nearly double the odds of failure to quit.


Interventions to address psychosocial stress may be important components within smoking cessation efforts.

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