Tobacco control policies and smoking among older adults: a longitudinal analysis of 10 European countries

Manuel Serrano-Alarcón, Anton E. Kunst, Jizzo R. Bosdriesz, Julian Perelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
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Background and Aims: The impact of tobacco control on European older adults has not been studied, despite evidence that smoking cessation at old age can bring significant life expectancy gains. Our aim was to evaluate the impact of tobacco control policies on smoking among older adults in Europe from 2004 to 2013. Design: We used longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, aged 50+ years) from four waves from 2004 to 2013. We used logistic regression models with clustered standard errors to determine whether the implementation of tobacco control policies was associated with changes in smoking status. Furthermore, we studied whether these associations varied by socio-demographic characteristics. Regression coefficients were converted to changes the probability of smoking [marginal effects (ME)]. Measurements: Smoking status was the dependent variable, and the Tobacco Control Scale (TCS) was the explanatory variable, overall and by its main policy components (pricing and smoke-free policies). Covariates included age, sex, education and country and wave fixed-effects. Findings: A 10-point increase in TCS was associated with a lower probability of smoking by 1.6 percentage points [95% confidence interval (CI) = −3.208, −0.056] for those aged 50–65, but not for older Europeans. Among those with primary school or no education, the associated drop was of 1.5 percentage points (95% CI = –2.751, −0.253). By contrast, no significant relation between TCS and smoking was observed among those with high education. Higher TCS scores for pricing (ME = –0.636, 95% CI = –0.998, −0.275) and smoke-free policies (ME = –0.243, 95% CI = –0.445, −0.041) were associated with a significantly lower probability of smoking (P = 0.001 and P = 0.018, respectively). Conclusion: Increases in tobacco taxes and smoke-free policies are significantly related with a reduction in smoking among European older adults, suggesting potential health gains for this rising share of the population. These policies may be more effective among the lowest educated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1085
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Older adults
  • smoke-free policies
  • smoking
  • TCS
  • tobacco control policies
  • tobacco taxes


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