Average household income, crime, and smoking behaviour in a local area: the Finnish 10-Town study

Soc Sci Med. 2007 May;64(9):1904-13. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.01.005. Epub 2007 Feb 26.


Social environments, like neighbourhoods, are increasingly recognised as determinants of health. While several studies have reported an association of low neighbourhood socio-economic status with morbidity, mortality and health risk behaviour, little is known of the health effects of neighbourhood crime rates. Using the ongoing 10-Town study in Finland, we examined the relations of average household income and crime rate measured at the local area level, with smoking status and intensity by linking census data of local area characteristics from 181 postal zip codes to survey responses to smoking behaviour in a cohort of 23,008 municipal employees. Gender-stratified multilevel analyses adjusted for age and individual occupational status revealed an association between low local area income rate and current smoking. High local area crime rate was also associated with current smoking. Both local area characteristics were strongly associated with smoking intensity. Among ever-smokers, being an ex-smoker was less likely among residents in areas with low average household income and a high crime rate. In the fully adjusted model, the association between local area income and smoking behaviour among women was substantially explained by the area-level crime rate. This study extends our knowledge of potential pathways through which social environmental factors may affect health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Crime*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Social Class*