Cancer linked to smoking twice as common among poor people in England | Smoking
Smoking causes nearly twice as many cancer cases among the poor as it does among the well-off, according to new findings that highlight the strong link between cigarettes and deprivation.
Around 11,247 cases of cancer caused by smoking are diagnosed each year among the poorest 20% of people in England, but far fewer – 6,200 – among the top 20% of earners.
Cancer Research UK, which produced the estimates, said the findings underscored why ministers should impose a tax on tobacco companies to help fund the cost of helping drug addicts quit smoking.
“It is of great concern that smoking is causing more cancer cases in the most disadvantaged groups,” said Michelle Mitchell, managing director of Cancer Research UK.
The difference in cancer incidence between the rich and the poor is so great that, combined with cuts in smoking cessation services in recent years, it threatens the government’s goal of becoming a tobacco-free country by 2030, she added.
The number of smokers would need to drop from its current record level of 15.5% to just 5% for this ambition to be achieved. While the proportion of people lighting up has declined dramatically over the past 20 years, it is increasingly concentrated among the poorest groups.
People in the most disadvantaged communities are two and a half times more likely to smoke than the top fifth of people in terms of income, which is the main reason for the higher number of cancers there, CRUK said.
“This marked difference in cancer rates exists because of the iron chain linking smoking and the disadvantages. About a quarter of people who are unemployed or engaged in routine and manual activities smoke, compared to less than one in 10 working in management or the professions, ”said Deborah Arnott, CEO of the anti-smoking charity ASH .
CRUK’s analysis found that around 53,227 cancers per year are diagnosed among the poorest 20% of the population in England, according to the Office of National Statistics Multiple Deprivation Index. Of these, an estimated 11,247 – 21% of the total – are directly caused by smoking, he said.
More cancer cases occur in the wealthiest 20% – around 63,828. However, far fewer of them – 6,200 – are the result of someone smoking, and they represent a much lower percentage (10 %) of all cancer cases that occur in this part of the population.
Professor Linda Bauld, public health expert at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This new study has found that more cancer cases are caused by smoking among the poorest 20% of the population. This is due to the larger number of people who smoke in this group, possibly due to several factors such as exposure to smoking, access to cigarettes, tobacco industry marketing, housing pressures and income; and access to health and social care, information and education.
Arnott supported CRUK’s call for tobacco companies to be forced to contribute to a smoke-free fund, based on the “polluter pays” principle. “Tobacco companies are making extreme profits at the expense of the poor. The time has come to make them pay to end the epidemic that they and they alone have caused, ”she said.