Effects of childhood socioeconomic circumstances on persistent smoking

Am J Public Health. 2004 Feb;94(2):279-85. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.2.279.


Objectives: We investigated whether socioeconomic circumstances at different life stages influence persistent smoking.

Methods: We followed a British birth cohort (all births between March 3 and 9, 1958) for 41 years to examine the influence of childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position on persistent smoking in adulthood (n = 6541).

Results: Persistent smoking (19% of participants, n = 1216) showed strong social gradients with both childhood and adulthood socioeconomic measures. Among men, the association with childhood socioeconomic circumstances was no longer significant after we adjusted for adulthood socioeconomic circumstances; however, among women, the adjusted odds of persistent smoking increased by 8% for each unit increase across a 16-point childhood score.

Conclusions: Childhood socioeconomic circumstances predicted persistent smoking among women in our cohort, a finding that highlights the importance of influences on the development of persistent smoking across the life course.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parents*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Social Class*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology