Smoking and predictors of nicotine dependence in a homeless population

Iris Torchalla, Verena Strehlau, Chizimuzo T.C. Okoli, Kathy Li, Christian Schuetz, Michael Krausz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess prevalence rates of tobacco use and dependence in a sample of homeless individuals and to investigate trends for demographic and clinical characteristics across different levels of nicotine dependence (nonsmokers vs. lowly dependent smokers vs. highly dependent smokers). Methods: A cross-sectional study of 489 homeless men and women in 3 Canadian cities. Each subject was assessed using structured clinical interviews and the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND). Cochran-Armitage trend tests were applied to determine unadjusted trends in sociodemographic and clinical variables across levels of nicotine dependence. A generalized logit model was computed to adjust for potential confounding. Results: The mean age was 37.9 years; 39.2% of the participants were women. About 80.8% were current smokers; the mean FTND score was 5.0. Although no significant differences were found between nonsmokers and smokers with low nicotine dependence, smokers with high nicotine dependence were only half as likely as nonsmokers to be Aboriginal, were 2.39 times more likely to have ever been incarcerated, and 2.44 times more likely to have current drug dependence. There were significant trends for the use of cocaine, opioids, and alcohol, with nonsmokers having the lowest and highly dependent smokers having the highest rates of using these substances. Conclusions: Available public health smoking cessation treatment opportunities should be made available within health care services for the homeless. There is also a need for developing and implementing tobacco dependence treatment programs, which are accessible and tailored to meet the needs of this specific population, accounting for polysubstance use and concurrent substance dependence and mental health disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-942
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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