Reported distress associated with concern about a cigarette smoker

Janet L. Thomas, Christi A. Patten, Kenneth P. Offord, Matthew M. Clark, Darrell R. Schroeder, Liza M. Nirelli, Carrie A. Bronars, Margaret L. Cowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


It is well documented that concerned others of alcohol abusers report distress associated with the substance user's behavior. No previous study has examined distress associated with concern for someone who smokes cigarettes. To investigate this association, college students, ages 18-24 (N = 1719), completed a survey assessing whether or not they were close to someone who smokes whom they thought should quit and the level of distress they experienced regarding this person's smoking. 827 (48.1%) respondents endorsed knowing a smoker whom they thought should quit and 60% reported experiencing at least some distress regarding this person's smoking. From multivariate analysis, the presence of distress (any vs. none) was associated with female gender (OR = 1.8, 95% C.I. 1.2, 2.5, p = 0.001), never tobacco user (OR = 2.0, 95% C.I. 1.4, 2.9, p < 0.001), and elevated Perceived Stress Scale score (OR = 1.05, 95% C.I. 1.02, 1.08, p < 0.001, per 1 unit increase in PSS score). These findings contribute to our understanding of how smoking impacts the psychological well being of another and is intended to stimulate future research investigating the potential for distressed individuals to serve as change agents in tobacco control efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1895-1903
Number of pages9
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Mayo Clinic Small Grants Program, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.


  • Cigarette smoking
  • College sample
  • Concerned other
  • Distress


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