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UK survey confirms link between deprivation and smoking

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 17 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2184
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

A new analysis from the Office for National Statistics confirms the strong association between the prevalence of smoking and levels of deprivation in England.

Men and women living in the most deprived areas of England were more than twice as likely to smoke as those living in the wealthiest areas, the analysis found.1

The analysis, which used data from the Integrated Household Survey, divided areas of the country into quintiles according to level of deprivation. In the most deprived fifth of areas 32.9% of men and 26.1% of women currently smoke, whereas in the least deprived fifth the respective figures are 14.3% and 10.2% (figure).

The data show that in the most deprived areas the prevalence of smoking among men aged over 18 rises with age to peak at 37.2% at 35-44 years and then declines to its lowest level (13.5%) at age 75 and over. Among women the prevalence in the most deprived areas drops sharply at 25-34 years but then steadily rises to a high of 31.3% at ages 45-54 before dropping again to its lowest level (11.8%) at age 75 and over.

In less deprived areas (those above the second quintile) the prevalence of smoking declines steadily with increasing age. Among men in these areas the prevalence fell from 23.3% at ages 18-24 to 4.5% at age 75 and over. A similar pattern was seen in women, with prevalence at 14.9% in the 18-24 age group and a gradual drop to 3.9% at age 75 and over.

The analysis pointed out that the largest difference in prevalence between the most and least deprived areas of the country occurred at middle age, with a 22.7 percentage point difference in prevalence in men and a 20.6 percentage point difference in women.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2184


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