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Influences on women's smoking status
The contribution of socioeconomic status in adolescence and adulthood

HILARY GRAHAM , GEOFF DER
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/9.2.137 137-141 First published online: 1 June 1999

Abstract

Background: Declining smoking prevalence is associated with widening socioeconomic differentials in tobacco use. The study investigates the influence of the adolescent and adult socioeconomic environment on the smoking status of adult women. Methods: A secondary data analysis of a nationally representative survey of households in Britain, the British Household Panel Survey, was undertaken of 2,678 non-Asian women aged 18–49 years in 1991. Multivariate analysis confirmed the significant and independent effect of adolescent and adult SES on the odds of being a current smoker. Results: With respect to adolescent SES, school-leaving age and school qualifications exerted an independent effect. With respect to current SES, housing tenure was the strongest predictor of smoking status. Along with living in rented housing, other markers of current disadvantage also increased the odds of being a current smoker, including living in a household without access to a car and being dependent on means-tested benefits. Not living with a partner also increased the odds of smoking. Compared to Black women, White women were over twice as likely to be a current smoker. Conclusions: Public health policies to reduce the socioeconomic gradient in smoking among women should target both adolescence and adulthood. Investment in the education of children heading towards early school leaving and minimum school qualifications could yield positive health dividends in later life, in terms of higher SES and lower smoking prevalence. Interventions to raise the living standards of women in lower socioeconomic groups may be required if they are to match the rates of decline achieved among women in more advantaged circumstances.

  • cigarette smoking
  • socioeconomic status
  • women