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Bars, Nightclubs, and Cancer Prevention: New Approaches to Reduce Young Adult Cigarette Smoking



Tobacco contributes to multiple cancers, and it is largely preventable. As overall smoking prevalence in California declines, smoking has become concentrated among high-risk groups. Targeting social/cultural groups (i.e., "peer crowds") that share common values, aspirations, and activities in social venues like bars and nightclubs may reach high-risk young adult smokers. Lack of population data on young adult peer crowds limits the ability to assess the potential reach of such interventions.


This multimodal population-based household survey included young adults residing in San Francisco and Alameda counties. Data were collected in 2014 and analyzed in 2016. Multivariable logistic regressions assessed smoking by sociodemographic factors, attitudes, self-rated health, peer crowd affiliation, and bar/nightclub attendance.


Smoking prevalence was 15.1% overall; 35.3% of respondents sometimes or frequently attended bars. In controlled analyses, bar attendance (AOR=2.13, 95% CI=1.00, 4.53) and binge drinking (AOR=3.17, 95% CI=1.59, 6.32) were associated with greater odds of smoking, as was affiliation with "Hip Hop" (AOR=4.32, 95% CI=1.48, 12.67) and "Country" (AOR=3.13, 95% CI=1.21, 8.09) peer crowds. Multivariable models controlling for demographics estimated a high probability of smoking among bar patrons affiliating with Hip Hop (47%) and Country (52%) peer crowds.


Bar attendance and affiliation with certain peer crowds confers significantly higher smoking risk. Interventions targeting Hip Hop and Country peer crowds could efficiently reach smokers, and peer crowd-tailored interventions have been associated with decreased smoking and binge drinking. Targeted interventions in bars and nightclubs may be an efficient way to address these cancer risks.

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