In France, between 2000 and 2008, concurrently to the increase in cigarette price, we observed an increasing social differentiation of cigarette smoking: smoking prevalence decreased among executive managers and professional occupations, it remained stable among manual workers, and it increased among the unemployed. Poor smokers were heavier smokers, they were more frequently tobacco-dependent, and they were more prone to smoke automatically or to reduce "negative feelings". In-depth interviews provided a more comprehensive insight into poor smokers' motivations: they were aware of their addiction, but they also talked about the pleasure they get from smoking, and they highlighted the essential needs satisfied by smoking: stress relief, cheap leisure, compensation for loneliness, break-up or redundancy... Acknowledging the functional aspects of smoking experienced by poor smokers helps to understand why increasing the cigarette price is unlikely to deter many poor smokers from smoking.
Keywords: Cigarette smoking; poverty; smoking motives.