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Relationship between job strain and smoking cessation: the Finnish Public Sector Study
  1. Anne Kouvonen1,
  2. Jussi Vahtera2,
  3. Ari Väänänen2,
  4. Roberto De Vogli3,
  5. Tarja Heponiemi4,
  6. Marko Elovainio4,
  7. Marianna Virtanen2,
  8. Tuula Oksanen2,
  9. Sara J Cox1,
  10. Jaana Pentti2,
  11. Mika Kivimäki3
  1. 1 University of Nottingham, United Kingdom;
  2. 2 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland;
  3. 3 University College London, Finland;
  4. 4 National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES), United Kingdom
  1. E-mail: jussi.vahtera{at}


Aims: To examine whether job strain (i.e., excessive demands combined with low control) is related to smoking cessation.

Methods: Prospective cohort study of 4928 Finnish employees who were baseline smokers. In addition to individual scores, co-worker assessed work unit level scores were calculated. A multilevel logistic regression analysis, with work units at the second level, was performed.

Findings: 21% of the baseline smokers had quit smoking at follow-up. After adjustment for sex, age, employer and marital status, elevated odds ratios (ORs) for smoking cessation were found for the lowest versus the highest quartile of work unit level job strain (OR=1.43; 95% CI 1.17 to 1.75) and for the highest versus the lowest quartile of work unit level job control (OR=1.61; 95% CI 1.31 to 1.96). After additional adjustment for health behaviours and trait anxiety, similar results were observed. Further adjustment for socioeconomic position slightly attenuated these associations, but an additional adjustment for individual strain/control had little effect on the results. The association between job strain and smoking cessation was slightly stronger in light than in moderate/heavy smokers. The results for individual job strain and job control were to the same direction as the work unit models, although these relationships became insignificant after adjustment for socioeconomic position. Job demands were not associated with smoking cessation.

Conclusions: Smoking cessation may be less likely in workplaces with high strain and low control. Policies and programs addressing employee job strain and control might also contribute to the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions.

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