Despite the multitude of public health and community harms associated with crack cocaine use, little is known about factors associated with smoking crack in public and related risks such as rushed public crack smoking.
Data were derived from two prospective cohort studies of people who use illicit drugs in Vancouver, Canada between 2010 and 2014. Multivariable generalized estimating equations were used to identify the prevalence and correlates of public crack smoking and rushed public crack smoking.
In total, 1085 participants who had smoked crack in the prior six months were eligible for the analysis, of which 379 (34.9 %) reported always or usually smoking crack in public in the previous six months at some point during the study period. Factors positively and independently associated with public crack smoking included public injection drug use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 5.42, 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 3.76-7.82), homelessness (AOR: 3.48, 95 % CI: 2.77-4.36), at least daily crack use (AOR: 2.69, 95 % CI: 2.19-3.31), crack pipe sharing (AOR: 1.98, 95 % CI: 1.60-2.46), drug dealing (AOR: 1.59, 95 % CI: 1.30-1.94), recent incarceration (AOR: 1.47, 95 % CI: 1.09-1.98), noticing police presence when buying or using drugs (AOR: 1.30, 95 % CI: 1.06-1.60), and younger age (AOR: 1.03, 95 % CI: 1.01-1.04). Rushed public crack smoking, which was reported by 216 (28.8 %) of 751 participants who had smoked crack in public at least once during the study period, was positively and independently associated with homelessness (AOR: 2.61, 95 % CI: 1.96-3.49), at least daily crack use (AOR: 1.48, 95 % CI: 1.11-1.98), crack pipe sharing (AOR: 1.44, 95 % CI: 1.10-1.89), drug dealing (AOR: 1.39, 95 % CI: 1.04-1.86), and younger age (AOR: 1.02, 95 % CI: 1.01-1.04).
A high prevalence of public crack smoking and rushed public crack smoking was observed in this setting. These findings point to the need for implementing and evaluating evidence-based public health interventions, such as supervised inhalation facilities, to reduce the risks and harms associated with smoking crack in public.