2018 Volume 28 Issue 4 Pages 170-175
Previous systematic reviews of population-level tobacco control interventions and their effects on smoking inequality by socioeconomic factors concluded that tobacco taxation reduce smoking inequality by income (although this is not consistent for other socioeconomic factors, such as education). Inconsistent results have been reported for socioeconomic differences, especially for other tobacco control measures, such as smoke-free policies and anti-tobacco media campaigns. To understand smoking inequality itself and to develop strategies to reduce smoking inequality, knowledge of the underlying principles or mechanisms of the inequality over a long time-course may be important. For example, the inverse equity hypothesis recognizes that inequality may evolve in stages. New population-based interventions are initially primarily accessed by the affluent and well-educated, so there is an initial increase in socioeconomic inequality (early stage). These inequalities narrow when the deprived population can access the intervention after the affluent have gained maximum benefit (late stage). Following this hypothesis, all tobacco control measures may have the potential to reduce smoking inequality, if they continue for a long term, covering and reaching all socioeconomic subgroups. Re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions on smoking inequality using a long time-course perspective may lead to a favorable next step in equity effectiveness. Tackling socioeconomic inequality in smoking may be a key public health target for the reduction of inequality in health.