Assessment of smoking behaviors and alcohol use in the national social life, health, and aging project

Melinda L. Drum, Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra, Elyzabeth Gaumer, Stacy T. Lindau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives The National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) assessed smoking behaviors and alcohol use as factors directly related to physical health, well-being, and social relationships. We describe self-report measures of tobacco and alcohol use, as well as an established biological marker of tobacco exposure, cotinine, collected in Wave 1 of NSHAP.Methods We compare smoking behaviors and alcohol use by gender and age group. We report on derived measures of alcohol consumption and tobacco exposure widely used in medical and substance use literature, compare current and past users, and describe associations between self-reported smoking status and cotinine.Results Men are more likely than women to report alcohol use, potential problem drinking, and ever smoking. Alcohol use and smoking are lower among older age groups. Although current smoking is less prevalent than in the general U.S. adult population, 50% of current and 29% of past smokers have lifetime exposure of 40 pack-years or more. Cotinine is directly related to number of cigarettes per day but with considerable unexplained variation. Cotinine levels contradict self-report in fewer than 4% of nonsmokers.Conclusion NSHAP provides data useful for investigation of smoking and alcohol use and their association with health and social factors.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)i119-i130
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The NSHAP is supported by the National Institutes of Health — the National Institute on Aging, the Office of Women’s Health Research, the Office of AIDS Research, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (5R01AG021487).


  • Alcoholuse
  • Cotinine
  • Older adult
  • Smoking behavior
  • Tobacco


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