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Social Network Characteristics and Daily Smoking among Young Adults in Sweden

Author:
  • Mikael Rostila
  • Ylva B Almquist
  • Viveca Östberg
  • Christofer Edling
  • Jens Rydgren
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 6517-6533
Publication/Series: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume: 10
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Abstract english

A large number of studies have shown that friends’ smoking behavior is strongly associated with an individual’s own risk for smoking. However, few studies have examined whether other features of social networks, independently or conjointly with friends’ smoking behavior, may influence the risk for smoking. Because it is characterized by the growing importance of friendship networks, the transition from adolescence to young adulthood may constitute a particularly relevant period on which to focus our investigation of network influences on smoking behavior. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the consequences of peer smoking as well as other network characteristics (friends’ other health behaviors, relationship content, and structural aspects of the network) on the risk for smoking among young adults. The data was based on a cross-sectional survey of Swedish 19-year-olds carried out in 2009 (n = 5,695) with a response rate of 51.6%. Logistic regression was the primary method of analysis. The results show that having a large percentage of smokers in one’s network was by far the most important risk factor for daily smoking. The risk of daily smoking was 21.20 (CI 14.24. 31.54) if 76%–100% of the network members smoked. Having a high percentage of physically active friends was inversely associated with daily smoking. The risk of smoking was 0.65 (CI 0.42. 1.00) if 76%–100% of the network members were physically active. No main associations between the other network characteristics (relationship content and structural aspects of the network) and smoking were found. However, there was an interaction between the percentage of smokers in the network and relationship content (i.e., trust, relationship quality and propensity to discuss problems): positive relationship content in combination with peer smoking may increase the risk of smoking. Women with a high percentage of smokers in their networks were also at higher risk of daily smoking than were men with many smoking friends. Hence, it is important to consider the interplay between peer smoking and other network characteristics on the risk of smoking, where features of networks which traditionally are seen as constructive may occasionally provide the impetus to smoke. Future studies should use longitudinal data to study whether these findings reflect peer selection or peer influence.

Keywords

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
  • smoking
  • social networks
  • homophily
  • Sweden
  • young adults
  • trust

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1660-4601
Christofer Edling
E-mail: christofer [dot] edling [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se

Dean

Faculty of Social Sciences

+46 46 222 88 62

35

Professor

Centre for Economic Demography

10

Professor

Sociology

+46 46 222 88 62

333

31

Background

I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences