Review paper
CC-BY-NC 4.0

Social determinants of tobacco use: Towards an equity lens approach

The Johns Hopkins University, Advanced Academic Programs (AAP), Baltimore, USA
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2017;3(March):7
Publish date: 2017-03-02
Tobacco is the only commercial product that eventually kills nearly half of all long-term users. The prevalence of tobacco use is disproportionately high in lower socioeconomic strata and vulnerable groups (such as adolescents) within and across countries. Given its highly addictive nature, tobacco use perpetuates poverty and loss of opportunities, thus undermining the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, by shaping the national and international context, globalization and governance impact on the tobacco epidemic and underlying disparities. Therefore, socio-economic gradients, which influence predisposition to tobacco uptake and cessation, must be confronted. Here I argue that tobacco prevention and control must be addressed through a lifelong, equity lens approach. This approach describes the essential need for every individual to have equal access to informative prevention and cessation services independent of income, occupational status, social stratum, or residence. I also contend that rather than being occupied with “research on research”, the focus should shift to how to practically implement the existing accumulated, cogent body of scientific evidence in a societally equitable manner. Finally, in line with the core dilemma of “who really governs the policies that shape our health?” raised by the WHO’s Director General, it is time for civil society either on its own or in partnership with local authorities to formulate policies that implement the “health for all” imperative rather than the currently dominant “wealth for some”.
Alexios-Fotios A. Mentis   
The Johns Hopkins University, Advanced Academic Programs (ΑΑP), 3400 North Charles Street –Wyman Park Building S – 612, 21218 Baltimore, MD, United States