Aims: Our aim was to examine the association between financial stress and subsequent smoking cessation among smokers, and relapse among ex-smokers.
Design and participants: Data came from the first two waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The size of the subsample of smokers was 2076, and that of ex-smokers was 2717. Data collection was based on face-to-face interviews.
Measurement: Eight questionnaire items (e.g. difficulty paying electricity, gas or telephone bills and going without meals due to shortage of money) were used to construct a nine-point financial stress index.
Findings: Smokers with more financial stress were less likely to quit, with the odds of quitting reducing by 13% (95% CI: 4-21%; P = 0.008) per unit of the financial stress index. Ex-smokers with more financial stress were more likely to relapse (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Special programmes may have to be implemented to counter the potentially adverse effects of tobacco price increases on smokers who have financial stress and fail to quit smoking.