Poor Smokers


Tobacco taxes have no effect at all on those who smoke most and can afford it least: Britain’s poor. Instead, smoking adds to the hardship they and their children experience. Whilst better-off people have given up smoking in large numbers, poorer people have not. Three out of four families on income support smoke, spending a seventh of their disposable income on cigarettes, and tobacco tax recovers for the Treasury 17 per cent of the means-tested benefits paid to poor smokers by the DSS. The poor are getting poorer, while smoking gets dearer.

Poor Smokers, based on interviews with 2,200 low-income families, gives strong evidence that the cost of smoking adds to the hardship experienced both by adults and by children in poor smoking families, and does so quite independently of other causes of hardship. It offers suggestions for policy changes to counter this dilemma, and looks at ways in which tobacco-control policy might be linked to family welfare policy.

Marsh, A., Mackay, S. (1994) Poor smokers, (PSI research report 771). London: Policy Studies Institute.

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ISBN: 0853745897 / 9780853748694 (pdf)