Tobacco use is inextricably linked to poverty. Tobacco consumption varies according to socioeconomic group, but in most countries, those who tend to consume tobacco the most are the poor and the poorest and men with low education than their more affluent and higher education counterparts. This inequality in smoking implies wide disparities in the health status of different socioeconomic groups in many countries.
In many ways tobacco perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty that many smokers are in. Nicotine addiction drives smokers to spend a large proportion of their income on tobacco diverting limited family resources from spending on basic necessities such as food, health care, shelter, and education. Tobacco also exacerbates poverty among families of tobacco users, who are at high risk of falling seriously ill from tobacco-related diseases and dying prematurely, thereby imposing heavy health care costs on families and depriving them of much-needed household income. It contributes to a disproportionate burden of disease and death among the poor.
Globally, around 226 million adult tobacco users live in poverty.
Smoking prevalence was strongly linked to the level of educational attainment. In most countries, smoking and other forms of tobacco use are much higher among the poor.
Among poor families in urban slum areas of Indonesia, households where the father was a smoker are at greater risk of household food insecurity.
Paternal smoking diverts household money from food to tobacco (22% of weekly per capita household expenditures) and exacerbates child malnutrition.
In low-income countries, sometimes more than 10% of household income is spent on tobacco products - meaning less money for food, education and healthcare.