Prevalence and socio-economic correlates of smoking among lone mothers in Australia

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2002 Apr;26(2):132-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2002.tb00905.x.


Objective: To report smoking prevalence among Australian lone mothers by age and socio-economic group and to examine the extent to which the difference in smoking prevalence between lone mothers and other women is due to socio-economic factors.

Methods: This was a secondary analysis of data from the 1995 National Health Survey (NHS), which was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Information was collected from 53,800 respondents using face-to-face interviews. This analysis was limited to single mothers (n=1,184) who had at least one dependent child aged under 15. The outcome measure was smoking status, distinguishing regular smokers from occasional smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers.

Results: The overall smoking prevalence among lone mothers was 46.3% (Cl 43.5%-49.1%). Lone mothers who were younger, less educated, received government pension/benefits, occupied rental housing or who lived in more disadvantaged areas were more likely to smoke than others. A strong 'lone mother effect' remained after controlling for socio-economic variables. The odds of smoking for lone mothers were 2.4 times greater than for married mothers (95% Cl 2.0-2.9) and twice as large as those for women living alone (95% CI 1.62.4).

Conclusion: As the prevalence for this population group is considerably higher than the prevalence for other women within each age category, programs to assist lone mothers to quit smoking are a priority for the long-term health of these women and their children. Furthermore, we discuss how policies and interventions that enhance the material conditions and social circumstances of lone mothers can bring about a decline in their smoking prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Single Parent / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors