The Collective Dynamics of Smoking in a Large Social Network

Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 54.42). 06/2008; 358(21):2249-58. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa0706154
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The prevalence of smoking has decreased substantially in the United States over the past 30 years. We examined the extent of the person-to-person spread of smoking behavior and the extent to which groups of widely connected people quit together.
We studied a densely interconnected social network of 12,067 people assessed repeatedly from 1971 to 2003 as part of the Framingham Heart Study. We used network analytic methods and longitudinal statistical models.
Discernible clusters of smokers and nonsmokers were present in the network, and the clusters extended to three degrees of separation. Despite the decrease in smoking in the overall population, the size of the clusters of smokers remained the same across time, suggesting that whole groups of people were quitting in concert. Smokers were also progressively found in the periphery of the social network. Smoking cessation by a spouse decreased a person's chances of smoking by 67% (95% confidence interval [CI], 59 to 73). Smoking cessation by a sibling decreased the chances by 25% (95% CI, 14 to 35). Smoking cessation by a friend decreased the chances by 36% (95% CI, 12 to 55 ). Among persons working in small firms, smoking cessation by a coworker decreased the chances by 34% (95% CI, 5 to 56). Friends with more education influenced one another more than those with less education. These effects were not seen among neighbors in the immediate geographic area.
Network phenomena appear to be relevant to smoking cessation. Smoking behavior spreads through close and distant social ties, groups of interconnected people stop smoking in concert, and smokers are increasingly marginalized socially. These findings have implications for clinical and public health interventions to reduce and prevent smoking.

Download full-text


Available from: James Henry Fowler, Jun 23, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An extensive line of research has identified delinquent peer association as a salient environmental risk factor for delinquency, especially during adolescence. While previous research has found moderate-to-strong associations between exposure to delinquent peers and a variety of delinquent behaviors, comparatively less scholarship has focused on the genetic architecture of this association over the course of adolescence. Using a subsample of kinship pairs (N = 2379; 52 % female) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth—Child and Young Adult Supplement (CNLSY), the present study examined the extent to which correlated individual differences in starting levels and developmental growth in delinquent peer pressure and self-reported delinquency were explained by additive genetic and environmental influences. Results from a series of biometric growth models revealed that 37 % of the variance in correlated growth between delinquent peer pressure and self-reported delinquency was explained by additive genetic effects, while nonshared environmental effects accounted for the remaining 63 % of the variance. Implications of these findings for interpreting the nexus between peer effects and adolescent delinquency are discussed.
    Journal of Youth and Adolescence 05/2015; 44(7). DOI:10.1007/s10964-015-0299-8 · 2.72 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Tobacco companies have described Australia as a ‘dark’ market, because the country's ban on advertising and point-of-sale display and the requirement for plain packaging of tobacco limit their ability to promote or differentiate tobacco brands. But despite the absence of overt promotion of smoking or cigarettes, evidence shows that attempting quitters struggle to stop smoking in Australia, raising the question of what factors continue to prompt smoking, and whether further policy initiatives could help attempting quitters and smokers to quit, or smoke less. This study explores the stimuli that encourage smoking and failed quit attempts, using a novel method of real-time collection of in-depth data from smokers and attempting quitters. The results suggest that the de-normalisation of smoking is resulting in lower levels of smoking, and in the absence of cues to smoke, many smokers and attempting quitters can abstain from smoking. Nevertheless, residual cues to smoke, including the mere sight of tobacco retail outlets and associated signage, prompt smoking related thoughts, complicate cessation attempts, and trigger relapse. The paper outlines implications for theory, explores policy that could limit the health and economic costs of smoking, and examines how support for attempting quitters might be improved.
    Journal of Business Research 03/2015; 1. DOI:10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.03.004 · 1.48 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Homophily and social influence are the main explanations for why there are more ties among people who have similar socio-demographic or behavioral characteristics. Homophily refers to the phenomenon that people are more likely to make relational ties with others who are similar to themselves than those who are not, whereas social influence refers to the phenomenon that an individual’s behavior is likely to become more similar to that of her friends over time. It is important to study both homophily and social influence processes of a social network because each process can lead to different structural characteristics for a social network; homophily can lead to separation among the members of a network, whereas social influence can lead to network-wide uniformity. In this study, we examine homophily and social influence processes among online casual game players. Specifically, we ask whether an online casual game player tends to be friends with other online casual game players who have similar game genre preferences and whether a player’s genre preferences and gaming frequencies become more similar to those of her Kongregate friends over time. For this study, demographic attributes, game genre preferences, gaming frequencies, and relational ties for 2488 game players were collected for two time periods from Kongregate. The panel data were analyzed with RSiena, the R version of SIENA (Simulation Investigation for Empirical Network Analysis), a social network analysis program used for social network panel data. The results suggest that there might not be strong homophily and social influence processes operating among the game players in the sampled network.
    Telematics and Informatics 03/2015; 32(4). DOI:10.1016/j.tele.2015.02.007 · 0.71 Impact Factor