Social capital and the miniaturization of community among daily and intermittent smokers: a population-based study

Martin Lindström
Preventive Medicine 2003, 36 (2): 177-84

BACKGROUND: The impact of social participation, trust, and the miniaturization of community on daily and intermittent smoking was investigated.

METHODS: The 2000 public health survey in Scania is a cross-sectional study. A total of 13,715 persons answered a postal questionnaire, which represents 59% of the random sample. A logistic regression model was used to investigate the association between the social capital variables and daily and intermittent smoking. The multivariate analysis was performed by using a logistic regression model to investigate the importance of possible confounders (age, country of origin, education, and snuff consumption) on the differences in daily and intermittent smoking between high versus low social participation, trust, and their four combination categories. The differences in the prevalences of the 13 social participation subitems between the high social capital and miniaturization of community categories were compared by t tests.

RESULTS: Daily smoking is negatively associated with both social participation and trust, while intermittent smoking is positively associated with social participation and negatively associated with trust. This latter combination, named "the miniaturization of community," is an indirect measure of the ideologically and culturally increasingly narrow forms of social participation that excludes generalised trust to other people. Study circles, meetings of organisations, theatre/cinema, arts exhibition, and gathering of relatives are more prevalent in the high social capital category, while visit(s) to night club/entertainment is more prevalent in the miniaturization of community category.

CONCLUSIONS: Low social capital is associated with daily smoking. "The miniaturization of community," i.e., high social participation and low trust, is significantly associated with intermittent smoking. The results have direct implications for smoking prevention strategies.

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