Associations between smoking behaviors and financial stress among low-income smokers

Rachel Widome, Anne M. Joseph, Patrick Hammett, Michelle Van Ryn, David B. Nelson, John A. Nyman, Steven S. Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: Many American households struggle to bring in sufficient income to meet basic needs related to nutrition, housing, and healthcare. Nicotine addiction and consequent expenditures on cigarettes may impose extra financial strain on low-income households. We examine how cigarette use behaviors relate to self-reported financial stress/strain among low-income smokers. Methods: At baseline in 2011/12, OPT-IN recruited adult smokers age 18-64 from the administrative databases of the state-subsidized Minnesota Health Care Programs (N=2406). We tested whether nicotine dependency, type of cigarettes used, and smoking intensity were associated with self-reported difficulty affording food, healthcare, housing, and living within one's income. All regression models were adjusted for race, education, income, age, and gender. Results: Difficulty living on one's income (77.4%), paying for healthcare (33.6%), paying for housing (38.4%), and paying for food (40.8%) were common conditions in this population. Time to first cigarette and cigarettes smoked per day predicted financial stress related to affording food, housing, and living within one's income (all p<0.05). For instance, those whose time to first cigarette was greater than 60. minutes had about half the odds of reporting difficulty paying for housing compared to those who had their first cigarette within five minutes of waking (adjusted odds ratio=0.55 [95% CI: 0.41, 0.73]). Type of cigarette used was not associated with any type of financial stress/strain. Conclusions: Smoking and particularly heavy smoking may contribute in an important way to the struggles that low-income households with smokers face in paying for necessities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-915
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015


  • Financial strain
  • Financial stress
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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