At What Cost? The Economic Impact of Tobacco Use on National Health Systems, Societies and Individuals : A Summary of Methods and Findings

By The World Bank | Go to book overview

Chapter 4:
Synopsis: Economic Assessments of
the Burden of Tobacco Use in
Population Subgroups

4.1 Introduction

Recent studies have focused increasingly on the economic impact of tobacco use in specific age-, gender-, and disease-affected populations. This chapter provides a synopsis of the findings and methodologies of studies examining the economic impact of tobacco use in specific population subgroups. Section 4.2 presents selected studies examining the economic impact of tobacco use across different levels of income and education. Sections 4.3 and 4.4 look at the economic effects of tobacco consumption on women and children respectively.


4.2 Smoking, Income and Education

4.2.1 Income

Historically, the number of smokers rose as incomes rose within populations (1). In the early decades of the smoking epidemic, smokers in high-income countries were more likely to be affluent than poor. This pattern appears to have reversed among men in the past three or four decades (1). Affluent men in high-income countries have increasingly quit smoking, whereas poorer men have not. In Norway, for example, the percentage of men with high incomes who smoked fell from 75% in 1955 to 28% in 1990 (1). Over the same period, the proportion of smoking men with low incomes declined much less steeply, from 60% in 1955 to 48% in 1990(1).

Today, in most high-income countries, there are significant differences in the prevalence of smoking between different socioeconomic groups. In the United Kingdom, only 10% of women and 12% of men in the highest socioeconomic group are smokers (1). In the lowest socioeconomic groups the corresponding figures are 35% and 40% respectively. Over the years, there has also been a slower decline in

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