Smokers in Brazil: who are they?

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Abstract

Background

Brazil has experienced a large decline in smoking prevalence due to several tobacco control policies that were implemented in the past 25 years. Previous population-wide studies found a consistent reduction over time in daily cigarette consumption among all socioeconomic groups.

Objective

To examine changes between 2008 and 2013 in tobacco behaviours and health-related conditions of smokers.

Methods

We used data obtained from two nationally-representative surveys conducted in 2008 and 2013 to estimate the prevalence of self-reported psychological and physical morbidity, and nicotine dependence markers, stratified by gender and sociodemographic groups. Generalised linear models were used to understand whether absolute differences in prevalence rates over time differed by categories of selected variables.

Results

For both genders, as smoking prevalence declined in Brazil, there has been an increase in the proportion of ever smokers who have quit. In addition, remaining smokers seem to be making more quitting attempts. Among men with low educational level or younger than 25 years-old, as compared to their counterparts, cessation rate showed an even greater increase over time. Moreover, the proportion of light smokers, which represent the vast majority of smokers, did not decrease. The percentage of poor health-conditions among remaining smokers nevertheless increased, particularly among women, which can make future cessation more challenging.

Conclusions

In Brazil, quitting rate is increasing, thus suggesting that tobacco control interventions implemented in Brazil in the past years seem to be effectively reaching the smoking population. This is strong evidence against the ‘hardening hypothesis’, which posits that remaining smokers decrease their willingness and ability to quit.

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