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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

The effect of single motherhood on smoking by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity

Hee-Jin Jun, Sc.D, Channing Laboratory, Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women's Hospital, 181 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115 and Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Ph.D, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115.

Objective: To examine the effect of parenting young children on smoking among US single women vis--vis married women, and whether this effect is moderated by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity.

Methods: Log-binomial regression analysis of daily smoking status on marital status, parenting responsibility (i.e. presence of children ages 0-4), income and race/ethnicity. We used the Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey, a nationally representative dataset (1995-96, n=65,391).

Results: Single women face a higher risk of smoking than married women. Overall, parenting young children reduced the risk of smoking among women. However, testing for an interaction effect showed that parenting is protective against smoking among married women but not among single women. Additionally, the effect of parenting on smoking among single women varied by income and race/ethnicity. Parenting was protective against smoking among single women in the two highest income quartiles, but not in the two lowest income quartiles. Parenting was protective among single black women but not among single white nor Hispanic women. Among married women, parenting was protective among all income levels and among all races/ethnicities. Conclusion: Single women are at a higher risk of smoking. Among low-income single women, and among white and Hispanic single women, parenting is not protective against smoking. Smoking cessation interventions and programs to reduce environmental tobacco smoke should recognize that the co-occurrence of single motherhood, parenting responsibility and low-income increases the risk of smoking. This is particularly significant given the rapid growth of the single women population, and their concentration in poverty.