Smokers with financial stress are more likely to want to quit but less likely to try or succeed: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey

Authors


Mohammad Siahpush, Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 986075 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-6075, USA. E-mail: msiahpush@unmc.edu

ABSTRACT

Objective  To examine the association of financial stress with interest in quitting smoking, making a quit attempt and quit success.

Design and participants  The analysis used data from 4984 smokers who participated in waves 4 and 5 (2005–07) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey, a prospective study of a cohort of smokers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Measurement  The outcomes were interest in quitting at wave 4, making a quit attempt and quit success at wave 5. The main predictor was financial stress at wave 4: ‘. . . because of a shortage of money, were you unable to pay any important bills on time, such as electricity, telephone or rent bills?’. Additional socio-demographic and smoking-related covariates were also examined.

Findings Smokers with financial stress were more likely than others to have an interest in quitting at baseline [odds ratio (OR): 1.63; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22–2.19], but were less likely to have made a quit attempt at follow-up (OR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.57–0.96). Among those who made a quit attempt, financial stress was associated with a lower probability of abstinence at follow-up (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.33–0.87).

Conclusions  Cessation treatment efforts should consider assessing routinely the financial stress of their clients and providing additional counseling and resources for smokers who experience financial stress. Social policies that provide a safety net for people who might otherwise face severe financial problems, such as not being able to pay for rent or food, may have a favorable impact on cessation rates.

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