Low Socioeconomic Status

Smoking Prevalence: In 2013, smoking prevalence was significantly higher among persons living below poverty (29.9%) than those living at or above poverty (20.6%).1

  • Among adults under age 65, 30 % of Medicaid enrollees and 30% of uninsured individuals smoke, compared to 15 % with private insurance coverage. 2

Cessation: People living at or below the poverty line are less likely to successfully quit smoking (5.1%) than those living at or above poverty (6.5%).3,4

Health Effects:

  • Among the primary causes of death in the U.S., the diseases with the strongest gradients in SES are those related to smoking, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.5
  • Occupational exposures place low SES employees in blue collar or working class sectors (i.e., industrial, service professions) at increased risk of tobacco-related health outcomes, including lung cancer and restrictive and chronic obstructive lung disease, due to secondhand smoke or chemical and other agents that are synergistic with tobacco smoke in contributing to health outcomes.6

Marketing: An analysis of previously secret tobacco industry documents found that tobacco companies strategically marketed their products to low SES women by distributing coupons with food stamps, discounting cigarettes, developing new brands, and promoting luxury images to low SES, African-American women.7