Community social environments and cigarette smoking
Denney, Justin T.; Sharp, Gregory; Kimbro, Rachel Tolbert
Cigarette smoking remains a primary contributor to health disparities in the United States, and significant evidence suggests that smoking behavior is socially influenced. Though residential neighborhoods are important for health disparities, recent evidence suggests that people spend the majority of their waking time away from the residential neighborhood. We advance research on neighborhoods and smoking by using individual, neighborhood, and activity space data for adults in the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS). Moving beyond socioeconomic indicators of neighborhoods, we investigate the ways in which residential neighborhood social cohesion, neighborly exchange, and perceived danger impact smoking behavior after accounting for confounding factors in both the residential neighborhood and other activity spaces in which adults spend their days. We find that perceptions of danger in the residential neighborhood is robustly associated with the likelihood of smoking cigarettes. Further, measures of community social organization interact with perceived danger to influence smoking behavior. Adults with high levels of perceived danger are twice as likely to smoke if residing in communities with lower levels of social organization in the form of helpful, trusting, and supportive relationships. Understanding how the social organization of communities contributes to smoking disparities is important for curbing smoking's impact on population health.