Population Composition, Public Policy, and the Genetics of Smoking

Department of Sociology and Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0327, USA.
Demography (Impact Factor: 1.93). 08/2011; 48(4):1517-33. DOI: 10.1007/s13524-011-0057-9
Source: PubMed


In this article, we explore the effect of public policy on the extent to which genes influence smoking desistance. Using a sample of adult twins (n(mz) = 363, n(dz) = 233) from a large population registry, we estimate Cox proportional hazards models that describe similarity in the timing of smoking desistance among adult twin pairs. We show that identical twin pairs are significantly more likely to quit smoking within a similar time frame compared with fraternal twin pairs. Importantly, we then show that genetic factors for smoking desistance increase in importance following restrictive legislation on smoking behaviors that occurred in the early and mid-1970s. These findings support the social push perspective and make important contributions to the social demography and genetic epidemiology of smoking as well as to the gene-environment interaction literatures.

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    • "They argue that social factors were primarily responsible for smoking onset but then, following the Surgeon General's 1964 report ''Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service'', the composition of smokers changed such that genetics became a more important determinant of smoking status. They followed this study up in an independent sample (Boardman et al. 2011) and showed that increasingly strict legislation regarding smoking (e.g., taxes, limits on public smoking, and so on) caused the composition of those who remain in the smoking group to be increasingly driven by genetic factors. "
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