Which group of smokers is more vulnerable to the economic crisis?

S. Gallus, R. Asciutto, R. Muttarak, R. Pacifici, C. La Vecchia, A. Lugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Studies investigating whether smoking increases or decreases during economic downturn provided contrasting results. For the first time, we used direct questions to analyse changes in smoking behaviour due to the 2008 financial crisis, comparing socio-economic characteristics of smokers who changed with those who kept their smoking intensity. Study design: Cross-sectional survey. Methods: We used data from three annual surveys conducted in Italy in 2012-2014 on representative samples of the Italian general population aged ≥15 years. Results: A total of 1919 current smokers were asked specific questions on the influence of the economic crisis that started in 2008 on their smoking behaviour. Overall, 77.4% of 1919 current smokers reported not to have changed their smoking behaviour, 19.1% to have reduced, and 3.5% to have increased their smoking intensity as a consequence of the economic crisis. The reduction in cigarette smoking increased with age: compared to the respondents aged <25 years, the multivariate odds ratio (OR) for those aged 25-44, 45-64 and ≥65 years were 0.65, 0.46 and 0.33, respectively (P for trend<0.001). Reduction was significantly lower among intermediate (OR = 0.68 compared to low) and high education levels (OR = 0.28; P for trend<0.001). A significant inverse trend for increasing consumption was observed with age (P = 0.022), education (P = 0.003) and family income (P < 0.001). Conclusions: The large majority of current smokers did not change their smoking habit following the economic crisis. However, there are specific vulnerable subgroups of smokers, constituted by the young and subjects with low socio-economic status, that were reactive to the global economic crisis. These groups are more prone to change their smoking behaviours, either for better or -, in a smaller proportion -, for worse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalPublic Health
Early online date2 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Economic crisis
  • Smoking consumption
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Unemployed
  • Vulnerable population

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