complex and ravaging interrelationship between tobacco use and social
determinants of health is explored in “Equity, social determinants and
public health programmes,” a 300-page report released by the World
Health Organization in May 2010.
An entire chapter of the report explores tobacco use as a marker of social inequity and provides an in-depth examination of how the health consequences of smoking are borne by the most disadvantaged groups in society.
Key findings are summarized below, and the whole report can be downloaded at no charge.
World Health Survey data and results from numerous other studies point to unequivocal inequities in many areas, including:
consequences of tobacco use disproportionately burden poor households,
where money that is spent on tobacco is not available for education,
health care, or housing; and where the poor health that results from
tobacco use also perpetuates poverty.
The WHO Framework Convention identifies interventions that address the inequities faced by socially disadvantaged groups. These interventions include:
While the World Health Organization has a significant role to play in promoting these interventions, the health sector can also take action to address the health inequities that result from tobacco use among the world’s most disadvantaged groups.