A new study from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that low-income households with a smoking family head or spouse lack consistent access to food, spending more on cigarettes.
Such families purchase, on average, 10 packs of cigarettes per week, spending around 33.70 dollars, which could otherwise add two pounds of ground beef, two pounds of chicken breasts, 64 ounces of fresh orange juice and 10 pounds of frozen vegetables to the weekly menu, at current supermarket prices.
The team led by Brian Armour analyzed the data from the 2001 Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a long-term study of U.S. men, women, and children and families.
They examined the connection between smoking and the lack of consistent and dependable access to nutritious food.
Terry Pechacek, associate director of science for the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health said that the choice between smoking and having more food might seem like a no-brainer, but this is not the case.
"Smoking is an addiction that gets established in adolescence, before individuals fully understand the long-term implications of their behaviour. Poor families suffer the long-term health impact," Pechacek added.
"Our research has shown that poor health behaviours do cluster together," said Sonia Duffy, a research investigator for the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan Schools of Nursing and Medicine, not a part of new study.
"Providing access to cessation services will help people quit," Armour said. "The most important things are the health benefits associated with quitting, and a byproduct might be to free up funds to end food insecurity."
The study appears in American Journal of Health Promotion.