Financial stress is associated with fewer quit attempts and higher relapse rates. This study aimed to compare financial stress among smokers, ex-smokers and never smokers in a highly socioeconomically disadvantaged sample. The study also aimed to determine whether specific indicators of financial stress differ according to smoking status. Adult clients seeking welfare assistance from two Social and Community Service Organisation sites in New South Wales, Australia, were invited to complete a cross-sectional survey between March 2012 and December 2013. Responses to a financial stress scale, smoking status and demographics were collected. Linear and logistic regression modelling was used to examine associations between smoking status and financial stress. A total of 1463 participants completed the survey. Current smokers had significantly higher total financial stress scores than ex-smokers and non-smokers respectively. Current smokers also had higher odds of severe financial stress indicators, such as going without meals (Odds Ratio = 2.2 and 2.0), than both non-smokers and ex-smokers. Even among a highly socioeconomically disadvantaged sample with high levels of financial stress, smoking status further exacerbates experiences of deprivation. Given the relationship between financial stress, socioeconomic disadvantage and difficulty quitting, it is important to provide enhanced cessation support to smokers experiencing financial stress.
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