Approximately 8.4 million people will die due to tobacco by 2020, with 70% of those deaths occurring in developing countries: WHO study

LONDON , August 29, 2011 (press release) – WHO estimates that 8.4 million deaths will be counted a year due to tobacco by 2020, and 70% of those deaths will occur in developing countries. Examination of the magnitude of socioeconomic differences in smoking between different age groups reveals specific groups anti-smoking programs should target on.

This study aimed to measure socioeconomic gradients related inequality in smoking behavior among young and old Thai male population, where general progress in reduction on smoking prevalence has already shown.

Methods: Data of Thai males aged 21 years and older from Health and Welfare Survey and Socio-Economic Survey, Thailand, 2006 were used in the analyses. Variables in education, household income, age, marital status, and region of residence were used to examine their associations with smoking status.

Results: Of the 12,200 respondents, overall prevalence of smoking among males aged 21 years and older was 41.5%.

Lower education was strongly associated with smoking (OR 3.15; 95% CI, 2.74-3.62). Youngest age, reside in South region and lowest income were more associated with smoking (OR = 2.66, 1.30, and 1.91, p<0.05, respectively).

Smoking among young adults (age 21-30) (OR = 5.88; 95% CI, 4.3-8.0) showed stronger gradients with educational level than that among older adults (OR = 3.96; 95% CI, 2.8-5.3).

Conclusions: The inverse associations between smoking prevalence and socioeconomic status among the Thai adult male population were consistently confirmed. The social gradient in smoking was greater among young adult males than that among older adult males.

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