Multiethnic differences in smoking in Israel: pooled analysis from three national surveys

Orna Baron-Epel, Amalia Haviv-Messika, Dov Tamir, Dorit Nitzan-Kaluski, Manfred Green
European Journal of Public Health 2004, 14 (4): 384-9

BACKGROUND: Smoking is a major public health risk and information regarding high-risk groups is needed to plan, implement and evaluate interventions aimed at lowering the number of smokers.

METHODS: During the years 1999-2001 data was collected regarding the smoking behaviour of the Israeli population in three national surveys. All three surveys included ages 25-64 and two included also ages 21-25 and over 64.

RESULTS: Smoking was associated with age, sex, ethnicity, education and religiosity after adjusting for the various demographic characteristics of the survey population. The prevalence of smoking among Arab and immigrant men from the former Soviet Union is higher than among Jewish men. Among women the opposite association exists. The older, religious and more educated reported smoking less frequently. In the Jewish population respondents, defining themselves as secular, reported higher rates of smoking. Only in women was marital status associated with smoking. A few specific high-risk groups for smoking can be identified such as young, less educated men, Arab men, single Jewish women and young immigrant men and women.

CONCLUSIONS: The three ethnic groups residing in Israel differ in the prevalence of smoking; each has a distinct pattern of smoking, positioning them at different stages within the conceptual framework of the larger smoking pandemic. Ethnicity, religiosity, age and education are associated with smoking in both sexes. This calls for specific tailored interventions aimed at younger men with less education, Arab men, and young immigrants.

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