New York: People who smoke are 60 percent less likely to vote than their non-smoking peers, says a study that sheds new light on the increasing marginalisation of tobacco users.
"We know from previous research that smokers are an increasingly marginalised population, involved in fewer organisations and activities and with less interpersonal trust than non-smokers," said first author Karen Albright, assistant professor at the University of Colorado.
"But what our research suggests is that this marginalisation may also extend beyond the interpersonal level to attitudes toward political systems and institutions," Albright pointed out.
Through random digit dialling, the study reached 11,626 people who completed a telephone survey querying a range of demographic, social and behavioural factors.
Questions included smoking behaviours and whether the respondent had voted in a recent election.
The researchers found that daily smokers were 60 percent less likely to vote than non-smokers.
Although, it is not clear clear why smokers are less likely to vote, one possibility is that smokers may view political institutions as oppressors, given widespread enactment of tobacco taxes and clean indoor air laws.
Somewhat similarly, the stigma associated with smoking may create social withdrawal or feelings of depression or fatalism among smokers, which could decrease voting, the study noted.
The study was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco.