The Risks Of Smoking – Regardless Of Social Class And Gender

February 18, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

A new study published on shows that a working class non-smoker has a longer life expectancy than a wealthy professional of the same gender who smokes.

Smoking is the main cause of health disparity, not social position, according to this study on the long-term effects of smoking for men and women.

Non-smokers, regardless of their social classes had a greater survival rate than smokers, for both genders, while non-smoking women in the lower social classes had the lowest risk of premature death.

Another finding was that women who smoke lost the natural survival advantage they have over men. The authors said “in essence, neither affluence nor being female offers a defense against the toxicity of tobacco.”

Dr Laurence Gruer and Dr David Gordon, NHS Health Scotland, and Professor Graham Watt and Dr Carole Hart, the University of Glasgow, looked at the effects of smoking on the survival rates of 15,000 men and women recruited in 1972-76 from Renfrew and Paisley in the West of Scotland. The participants were first divided by gender and social class, and then into smokers, never-smokers and ex-smokers. The social class category was sub-divided as I and II (highest); III non manual; III manual; and IV and V (lowest).

After periods of 14 and 28 years, death rates were evaluated. According to the results, smokers had a much higher death rate than never-smokers from both genders and in every social class in both follow-up periods. After 28 years, 36% of male and 56% of female never-smokers from the lowest social classes (IV and V) had a higher life expectancy versus 24% of male and 41% of female smokers in the two higher social class groups (I and II). Results for smokers in the lowest social classes were worse.

The researchers concluded the death rates of ex-smokers were more similar to those of never-smokers than smokers, encouraging the benefits of quitting.

Dr Gruer, Director of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This study reinforces current policies in the United Kingdom and other countries aimed at helping smokers stop smoking. Accessible and effective smoking cessation advice and services, as well as strong action to discourage young people from starting to smoke, are key to reducing health inequalities. With over 23% of adults in the UK still smoking, rising to well over 40% in some places and groups, it’s crucial we continue to make smoking cessation a top priority.”

“Research: Effect of tobacco smoking on survival of men and women by social position: a 28 year cohort study”

BMJ online

Written by Stephanie Brunner (B.A.)

Copyright: Medical News Today

Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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