Research/studies Worker health and wellness

Higher wages, fewer smokers? Researchers explore link


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Sacramento, CA – Increased wages may lead to a decrease in smoking rates among workers, according to a recent study from the University of California-Davis.

Researchers used data from 1999 to 2009 to measure wages and smoking statuses among full-time workers 21 to 65 years old. They determined a 10 percent increase in wages prompted about a 5 percent decrease in smoking rates among men as well as among adults who lacked more than a high school education. Meanwhile, a wage increase improved the chances for those workers to quit smoking by as much as 20.4 percent.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 17.8 percent of U.S. adults 18 and older currently smoke cigarettes, resulting in more than 480,000 deaths every year.

“Our findings add to the existing body of epidemiological literature showing that lower income predicts poor health habits,” study senior author Paul Leigh said in a press release.

The findings could benefit employers in their efforts to keep workers healthy and productive, the researchers said.

A NIOSH grant funded the study. It was published in the August issue of Annals of Epidemiology.