Exposure to community and collective violence during childhood and tobacco use patterns among young adults in Tunisia

Sana El Mhamdi, Andrine Lemieux, Arwa Ben Salah, Ines Bouanene, Kamel Ben Salem, Mustafa al'Absi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence demonstrates that experiencing intrafamilial adversities (abuse, neglect and household dysfunction) during childhood is linked to addictive behaviours. However, the impact of social adversities (peer, community and collective violence) as well as gender, on tobacco initiation and dependence has received much less attention. The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between social childhood adversities and tobacco use patterns by gender among young adults in Tunisia. We performed a cross-sectional study from May to December, 2014 on 1,200 respondents using the validated Arabic version of the World Health Organization Adverse Childhood Experiences—International questionnaire (WHO ACE-IQ). Data on smoking characteristics among current smokers were also collected. Data analysis was performed using logistic and linear regression models. The rate of current tobacco use was significantly higher for males (43.9%) than for females (9.3%). Female and male respondents differed significantly on almost every examined adversity. Males were more likely to have experienced all types of social violence than females. The odds of tobacco use were significantly higher regardless the mental health status and the occurrence of intrafamilial early life adversity for both genders. Smokers exposed to social violence during childhood had a strong association between nicotine dependence and the overall burden of adversity. That is, 74 and 58% of nicotine dependence was explained by the number of childhood social adversities in females and males respectively. The findings underscore the role of community and collective violence in addictive behaviours among young adults. Multisectorial and population-based strategies are needed to minimise the occurrence of social early life adversity and related tobacco patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-945
Number of pages11
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • early life adversity
  • smoking behaviours
  • social adversities
  • young adults


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