Introduction: Tobacco control policies seemed to have failed to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in smoking in the past. It has been argued that a comprehensive mix of policies is needed. Our aim was to assess whether tobacco control policy development in the Netherlands between 1988 and 2011 was associated with educational inequalities in smoking cessation and cigarette consumption.
Methods: Data were derived from the cross-sectional Dutch Continuous Survey of Smoking Habits, with a study sample of 259,140 respondents from 1988 through 2011. Outcomes were the quit ratio and mean number of cigarettes smoked per day. The determinant was the Tobacco Control Scale (TCS). We used multilevel logistic regression modeling, with years, quarters, and individuals as levels, and controlled for sex, age, and time.
Results: A significant association between the TCS and smoking cessation was found in 2001-2011, but not in 1988-2000. Associations for low- and high-education groups were similar (OR = 1.23; 95% CI = 1.12-1.34 and OR = 1.17; 95% CI = 1.03-1.32 respectively). The TCS was not significantly associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day for either the low- or high-education groups (B = -0.09; 95% CI = -0.46-0.27 and B = -0.59; 95% CI = -1.24-0.06 respectively).
Conclusions: Strong tobacco control policies introduced in the Netherlands after 2000 were positively associated with national trends in smoking cessation, whereas weaker policies introduced gradually before 2000 were not. However, these measures do not seem to have either widened or narrowed educational inequalities in smoking cessation rates-both groups benefitted about equally.
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