Which Literacy Skills Are Associated with Smoking?

Published in: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, v. 66, no. 2, Feb. 2012, p. 189-192

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2012

by Laurie T. Martin, Ann C. Haas, Matthias Schonlau, Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Lindsay Rosenfeld, Rima Rudd, Stephen L. Buka

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: Research has demonstrated associations between smoking and reading skills, but other literacy skills such as speaking, listening and numeracy are less studied despite our dependence on the use of numbers and the oral exchange to deliver information on the risks of smoking. METHODS: The authors used multivariable logistic regression to examine the effects of reading, numeracy, speaking and listening skills on: (1) becoming a regular smoker and (2) smoking cessation. Further, multivariable linear regression was used to examine the relation between literacy skills and amount smoked among current smokers. Models controlled for education, gender, age, race/ethnicity, income and, when relevant, age at which they became a regular smoker. RESULTS: For each grade equivalent increase in reading skills, the odds of quitting smoking increased by about 8% (OR=1.08, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.15). For every point increase in numeracy skills, the odds of quitting increased by about 24% (OR=1.24, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.46). No literacy skills were associated with becoming a regular smoker or current amount smoked. CONCLUSION: The ability to locate, understand and use information related to the risks of smoking may impact one's decision to quit. Messaging should be designed with the goal of being easily understood by all individuals regardless of literacy level.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.