Tobacco control policy and socio-economic inequalities in smoking in 27 European countries

Bosdriesz JR, Willemsen MC, Stronks K, Kunst AE.

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Aug 1;165:79-86.


Higher Tobacco Control Scale (TCS) scores, in the early 2000s were associated with higher smoking cessation rates across Europe, both among lower and higher educated people. We aimed to assess if this association held in recent years.


Repeated cross-sectional Eurobarometer surveys were used, in 27 European countries from 2006 to 2012 (study sample = 73,617 adults). We used multilevel regression to model associations between the TCS (ranging from 0 to 100, quantifying: tobacco price, smoke-free laws, mass-media campaigns, advertising bans, warning labels, and cessation support) and both smoking cessation and cigarettes smoked per day. We modelled associations according to respondents’ education and occupation, with adjustment for age, sex, and survey-wave.


We found no association between the TCS and smoking cessation for lower or middle educated respondents, but we did find an association for higher educated respondents (OR: 1.13, 95%CI: 1.08 to 1.19). For smoking intensity, we observed no associations with the TCS for lower educated respondents (beta: 0.04, 95%CI: −0.33 to 0.41) but we did observe significant associations for middle (beta: −0.25, 95%CI: −0.47 to −0.03) and higher educated respondents (beta: −0.27, 95%CI: −0.55 to −0.01). Associations were observed for both manual and non-manual classes, but not for those not working for pay. Of the TCS domains, none were associated with smoking cessation for lower educated respondents, but five were for higher educated respondents.


Associations between tobacco control policies and smoking cessation were found mostly among higher socioeconomic groups. This underlines the need for specific tobacco control policies that explicitly focus on reaching low socio-economic groups.

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