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Phantom smoking among young adult bar patrons
  1. Jamie Guillory1,
  2. Nadra Lisha2,
  3. Youn Ok Lee1,
  4. Pamela M Ling2
  1. 1RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jamie Guillory, RTI International, 3040 E. Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA; jguillory{at}rti.org

Abstract

Objective To explore the prevalence and sociodemographic makeup of smokers who do not self-identify as smokers (ie, phantom smokers) compared with self-identifying smokers in a sample of bar-going young adults aged 18–30 years to more accurately assess young adult prevalence of smoking and inform cessation message targeting.

Methods Cross-sectional surveys of smokers (n=3089) were conducted in randomly selected bars/nightclubs in seven US cities. Logistic regression models assessed associations between phantom smoking (past 30-day smoking and denial of being a smoker), tobacco and alcohol use behaviours (eg, social smoking, nicotine dependence, smoking while drinking, past 30-day alcohol use) and demographics.

Results Compared with smokers, phantom smokers were more likely to be college graduates (OR=1.43, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.98) and to identify themselves as social smokers (OR=1.60, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.12). Phantom smokers had lower odds of smoking while drinking (OR=0.28, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.32), being nicotine dependent (OR=0.36, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.76) and having quit for at least 1 day in the last year (OR=0.46, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.69) compared with smokers.

Conclusions This research extends phantom smoking literature on college students to provide a broader picture of phantom smoking among young adults in high-risk contexts and of varying levels of educational attainment. Phantom smokers may be particularly sensitive to social pressures against smoking, suggesting the importance of identifying smoking as a behaviour (rather than identity) in cessation messaging to ensure that phantom smokers are reached.

  • Surveillance and monitoring
  • Denormalization
  • Priority/special populations

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