Study finds smoking and poverty go hand in hand
Smokers face a higher chance of living in poverty, according to a study by Beijing Normal University (BNU).
The rate of family poverty among smokers is 23.61 percent, nearly double the figure of 13.81 percent among non-smokers, according to the study conducted by BNU's School of Social Development and Public Policy.
The study sampled 4,749 people above the age of 40 from 2,409 families in underdeveloped areas in eight provinces -- Hebei, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou and Shaanxi.
"We conducted the study to find whether smoking causes diseases that lead to heavier financial burdens," said professor Jin Chenggang, who led the study.
The study found that impoverished areas have a higher smoking rate — 34.2 percent — than the country’s average, 26.6 percent.
On average, smokers in poverty-stricken areas light up 18 times a day. Researchers determined that figure would fall by almost 50 percent if the price of cigarettes doubled.
Smoking dramatically increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic ailments, leading to a decline in quality of life and occupational capabilities, which in turn reduces income.
Moreover, high medical expenses translate to less spending on food and education.
“By raising tobacco prices and levying higher taxes on tobacco producers, people in poverty-stricken areas would spend less on smoking," Jin said. "Smoking control efforts can consolidate our country’s poverty-relief achievements."