As smoking can place a financial burden on low income families, research shows that it has put 400,000 children into poverty in the UK.
This is the first UK study to highlight the extent to which smoking exacerbates child poverty. The findings are based on national surveys which estimate the number of children living in poverty by household structure. In 1999, the UK government announced a target to abolish child poverty by 2020, though this target is unlikely to be met. It is therefore crucial to identify avoidable factors that contribute to and worsen child poverty.
“Smoking reduces the income available for families to feed, clothe and otherwise care for their children living in low-income households. This study demonstrates that if our government, and our health services, prioritized treating smoking dependence, it could have a major effect on child poverty as well as health,” says lead author, Dr Tessa Langley from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham.
Smoking is an expensive habit and one that impoverishes millions of people around the world. In the US, smokers spend less on housing than non-smokers and recent research in India showed that smoking cuts spending on food, education, and entertainment.