Working Paper

Cigarette smoking and food insecurity among low-income families in the United States, 2001


Abstract: The goal of this research is to quantify the association between food insecurity and smoking among low-income families. This analysis is a retrospective study using data from the 2001 Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal study of a representative sample of U.S. men, women, and children and the family units in which they reside. Family income is linked with U.S. poverty thresholds to identify 2,099 families living near or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Food insecurity (that is, having insufficient funds to purchase enough food to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle) is calculated from the eighteen core items in the food security module of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The results indicate that smoking prevalence is higher among low-income families who are food insecure compared to low-income families who are food secure (43.6 percent versus 31.9 percent). Multivariate analysis reveals that smoking is associated with an increase in food insecurity of approximately 6 percentage points. Given our finding that families near the federal poverty level spend a large share of their income on cigarettes, perhaps it would be prudent for food assistance and tobacco control programs to work together to help low-income people quit smoking.

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: FRB Atlanta Working Paper

Publication Date: 2007

Number: 2007-19