Article: Do Social Networks Change After Quitting Smoking?

December 1, 2016:

A common fear of many smokers who want to quit is that they will lose many people in their social network―family, friends or co-workers―when they quit.Kids-smoking In a recent article in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, researchers applied latent transition analysis to examine the changes in the social networks of smokers who are quitting. The authors identified five types of networks and found that people who successfully quit are actually likely to increase the size of their social networks.

The results are based on a sample from a smoking-cessation trial conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research (UW-CTRI). In the study, UW-CTRI researchers interviewed 691 adult smokers about their friends and associates.

This analysis was led by Methodology Center Associate Director Bethany Bray. The authors analyzed how participants’ social networks changed during the three years after quitting. Smokers who quit were more likely to transition to larger social networks, especially amongst participants who had the highest levels of exposure to other smokers before quitting. In other words, quitting was associated with an increase in the number of people, especially non-smokers, in people’s social networks.

“Clinicians can use results from this study to reassure smokers that quitting tends to increase, not decrease, the size of social networks,” said co-author and smoking expert Megan Piper. “Many smokers tell us cigarettes are their best friend, and that doesn’t have to be the case. We found our patients who quit expanded their social networks and developed meaningful relationships after they quit smoking.”

Open the article. (Journal access required.)

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