Lived experience of tobacco tax increase among socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers
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University of Mauritius, Medicine, Mauritius
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A387
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Tobacco tax increase reduces tobacco use, but smokers especially socioeconomically disadvantaged who do not quit smoking may experience financial stress (Lantz et al. 2005; Siahpush et al. 2007; Krueger et al. 2008; Pampel et al. 2010). This study was carried out to explore the lived experience of socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers with respect to tobacco tax increase. The study objectives were to look into their spending mechanism, to examine their smoking behaviour and to capture their cognition to quit smoking.

This qualitative study with phenomenological approach took place in a smoking cessation clinic of a regional hospital in Mauritius. A purposive sample of socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers was constituted until theoretical saturation was reached. A semi-structured guide was used to collect data through face-to-face interviews which were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed using Thematic Framework Analysis in order to establish the emerging themes. Ethical clearance was obtained from the relevant research ethics committee.

The main themes which emerged included the following: Tobacco-related expenses as priority, Large amount of monthly income for tobacco-related expenses, Need to satisfy cravings, Exacerbation of financial stress, Scepticism about tobacco tax effectiveness, Strategies to maintain smoking, Need for complete ban of cigarettes in the country and Need for government to provide assistance for smoking cessation. The findings from this study constitute new qualitative data pertaining to the lived experience of a group of socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers.

This study shows that tobacco taxation contributes to the socioeconomic burden of smokers who maintain smoking. In order to address tobacco-related poverty and inequality, there is need for targeted intervention by health authorities to provide assistance for smoking cessation among socioeconomically disadvantaged smokers, especially during the aftermath of tobacco tax increase policy of the country.