Prevalence and socio-economic correlates of smoking among lone mothers in Australia

Mohammad Siahpush, Ron Borland, Michelle Scollo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Objective: To report smoking prevalence among Australian lone mothers by age and socio-economic group and to examine the extent to which the difference in smoking prevalence between lone mothers and other women is due to socio-economic factors. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of data from the 1995 National Health Survey (NHS), which was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Information was collected from 53,800 respondents using face-to-face interviews. This analysis was limited to single mothers (n=1,184) who had at least one dependent child aged under 15. The outcome measure was smoking status, distinguishing regular smokers from occasional smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers. Results: The overall smoking prevalence among lone mothers was 46.3% (CI 43.5%-49.1%). Lone mothers who were younger, less educated, received government pension/benefits, occupied rental housing or who lived in more disadvantaged areas were more likely to smoke than others. A strong 'lone mother effect' remained after controlling for socio-economic variables. The odds of smoking for lone mothers were 2.4 times greater than for married mothers (95% CI 2.0-2.9) and twice as large as those for women living alone (95% CI 1.6-2.4). Conclusion: As the prevalence for this population group is considerably higher than the prevalence for other women within each age category, programs to assist lone mothers to quit smoking are a priority for the long-term health of these women and their children. Furthermore, we discuss how policies and interventions that enhance the material conditions and social circumstances of lone mothers can bring about a decline in their smoking prevalence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-135
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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