Income, occupation and education: Are they related to smoking behaviors in China?

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Abstract

Background The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and smoking behaviors may differ across countries. This study aimed to estimate the association between socioeconomic status (income, occupation and education) and multiple measures of smoking behaviors among the Chinese elderly population. Methods Using data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study in 2013, we examined the relationship between socioeconomic status and smoking behaviors through multivariate regression analysis. Sample selection models were applied to correct for sample selection bias. Smoking behaviors were measured by four indicators: smoking status, cigarette consumption, health risks related to smoking, and smoking dependence. Analyses were stratified by gender and urban-rural residence. Results Among Chinese people aged 45 years or older, smokers accounted for 40% of the population in 2013, smoking 19 cigarettes per day. It was also found that 79% of smokers were at an increased health risk. Overall, although the influence of income on smoking behaviors was small and even insignificant, occupation and education levels were significantly associated with smoking behaviors. Managers or professionals were more likely to smoke, however there was no significant relationship with smoking dependence. Individuals with higher educational attainment were less likely to be associated with smoking behaviors. In addition, gender and urban-rural differences existed in the relationship between SES and smoking behaviors. Conclusions Smoking disparities among diverse levels of socioeconomic status existed but varied greatly by SES indicators and population characteristics. Tobacco control policies in China should be increasingly focused on populations with low socioeconomic status in order to break the link between socioeconomic disadvantage and smoking behaviors. Further actions should mitigate inequalities in education, improve the social culture of cigarette use, and tailor interventions based on characteristics of the population.

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Wang, Q., Shen, J. J., Sotero, M., Li, C. A., & Hou, Z. (2018). Income, occupation and education: Are they related to smoking behaviors in China? PLoS ONE, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192571

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