Smoking and poverty

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2006 Jun;13(3):312-8. doi: 10.1097/01.hjr.0000199495.23838.58.


The problem of poverty leads to increased use of both legal and illegal drugs. Tobacco and alcohol are legal drugs that cause particular concern. Both drugs are widely abused in Germany by people attempting to escape their everyday problems. For decades it has been known that tobacco and alcohol use are more prevalent in lower socio-economic groups of society (those with low educational achievement, compared with people with further or higher education qualifications). Tobacco and alcohol use is particularly high among the unemployed, either temporarily or long-term, as well as people living alone. Children and women are more concerned about smoking than men. Female loneliness, often accompanied by the appearance of depressive reactions or of depression, increases the likelihood of cigarette smoking. Poor people spend up to 20% of their income on tobacco. In many industrialized countries, the age of onset of smoking is becoming younger and younger, increasing the risk of development of avoidable tobacco-related illnesses at an earlier age. This means that young smokers who develop chronic tobacco-related illnesses will require medical care over many years, increasing the cost of treating tobacco-related disease. Within the next few years, effective prevention programs against smoking must be developed, particularly for the lower socio-economic populations, in order to stop the cost of healthcare systems spiraling over the coming decades.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Social Class*
  • Unemployment*