Background: Existing evidence suggest that those who are socially isolated are at risk for taking up or continuing smoking. This study investigated country-based differences in social isolation and smoking status. Methods: We performed a repeated cross-sectional study using two waves of data from two ongoing aging studies: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study. Participants from both studies aged ≥65 years were included. We applied a multilevel Poisson regression model to examine the association between social isolation and smoking status and adjusted for individual sociodemographic characteristics. We used the social isolation index which comprises the following domains: marital status; frequency of contact with friends, family, and children; and participation in social activities. Interaction terms between each country and social isolation were also entered into the mode. Results: After exclusion of never smokers, we analyzed 75,905 participants (7,092 for ELSA and 68,813 for JAGES, respectively). Taking ex-smokers as the reference, social isolation was significantly associated with current smoking; the prevalence ratios (PRs) were 1.06 (95% credible interval [CrI], 1.05–1.08) for men and 1.08 (95% CrI, 1.04–1.11) for women. Taking Japan as a reference, the interaction term between country and social isolation was significant for both sexes, with increased PRs of 1.32 (95% CrI, 1.14–1.50) for men and 1.30 (95% CrI, 1.11–1.49) for women in England. Conclusions: Older people who were less socially isolated were more likely to quit smoking in England than in Japan, possibly explained by the strict tobacco control policies in England.
- Smoking status
- Social isolation
- repeated cross-sectional study
ASJC Scopus subject areas