Public Policy and the Genetics of Smoking

Jason D. Boardman, University of Colorado at Boulder
Fred C. Pampel, University of Colorado at Boulder
Peter Hatemi, University of Iowa
Andrew Heath, Midwest Alcoholism Research Center
Lindon Eaves, Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics

In this paper we explore the effect of historical and public policy changes in the genetic influences on smoking desistence. Using a sample of adult twins (nmz=363, ndz=233) from a large population registry, we estimate Cox proportional hazards models that describe similarity in the timing of smoking desistence among adult twin pairs and find that MZ twin pairs are significantly more likely to quit smoking in the same time frame, identified by policy changes, compared to DZ twin pairs. The results provide strong support for the social push perspective for this phenotype. Specifically, we show that genetic factors for smoking desistence increase in importance following restrictive legislation on smoking behaviors that occurred in the early and mid 1970s. These findings make important contributions to the social demography and genetic epidemiology of smoking as well as the gene-environment interaction literatures.

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Presented in Session 43: Genetics and Demographic Behavior