Impact of tobacco control interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in smoking: A review of the evidence

Sarah Hill, D. Clifford, Stephen Platt, Amanda Amos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective We updated and expanded a previous systematic literature review examining the impact of tobacco control interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in smoking.

Methods We searched the academic literature for reviews and primary research articles published between January 2006 and November 2010 that examined the socioeconomic impact of six tobacco control interventions in adults: that is, price increases, smoke-free policies, advertising bans, mass media campaigns, warning labels, smoking cessation support and community-based programmes combining several interventions. We included English-language articles from countries at an advanced stage of the tobacco epidemic that examined the differential impact of tobacco control interventions by socioeconomic status or the effectiveness of interventions among disadvantaged socioeconomic groups. All articles were appraised by two authors and details recorded using a standardised approach. Data from 77 primary studies and seven reviews were synthesised via narrative review.

Results We found strong evidence that increases in tobacco price have a pro-equity effect on socioeconomic disparities in smoking. Evidence on the equity impact of other interventions is inconclusive, with the exception of non-targeted smoking cessation programmes which have a negative equity impact due to higher quit rates among more advantaged smokers.

Conclusions Increased tobacco price via tax is the intervention with the greatest potential to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in smoking. Other measures studied appear unlikely to reduce inequalities in smoking without specific efforts to reach disadvantaged smokers. There is a need for more research evaluating the equity impact of tobacco control measures, and development of more effective approaches for reducing tobacco use in disadvantaged groups and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)e89
JournalTobacco Control
Issue numbere2
Early online date17 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • tobacco
  • inequalities
  • tobacco control


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