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Reductions in smoking can reduce health gaps between the rich and the poor.



Smoking is more common among the poor than among the rich in most developed countries. Smoking is also more common among poor men than among rich men in almost all developing countries while the situation is more variable amongst women. Tobacco use among groups that are already disadvantaged is likely to exacerbate existing health disparities. Individuals living in poverty in the US have a median duration of smoking of 40 years as opposed to 22 years among those with incomes three times greater than poverty level. Median duration of smoking in the US is 40 years among individuals without a high-school diploma, but 18 years among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Estimates for Canada, England, Wales, Poland and the United States suggest that the excess mortality of poor men in these countries is largely explained by differences in smoking between the rich and poor. Reductions in smoking among the poor could reduce health disparities between the rich and the poor.



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