Determinants of daily smoking in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland in 1994-2002.

Ville V Helasoja , Eero Lahelma , Ritva S Prättälä , Kristiina M Patja , Jurate Klumbiene , Iveta Pudule , Anu Kasmel

Aims: To investigate time trends in the smoking prevalence and the sociodemographic and psychosocial background of smoking in the Baltic countries in comparison with Finland during 1994-2002. Methods: Differences in daily smoking according to age, education, urbanization, and psychological distress in the Baltic countries and Finland were studied using postal surveys in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002 among adults (20-64 years old) in Estonia (n = 6,271), Latvia (n = 6,106), Lithuania (n = 9,824), and Finland (n = 15,764). Results: In 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002 the prevalence of smoking in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland was 47%, 54%, 46%, and 29% among men, and 21%, 19%, 11%, and 19% among women, respectively. Smoking increased among Lithuanian women from 6% in 1994 to 13% in 2002, but decreased among Estonian men and women. Smoking was generally more common among younger individuals, the less educated, and people with distress in all four countries. The odds ratios for smoking for those with low education compared with those with high education were 2.18 (1.69-2.81), 3.32 (2.55-4.31), 2.20 (1.79-2.70) and 2.80 (2.40-3.27) in men, and 1.90 (1.42-2.52). 3.09 (2.28-4.18), 0.86 (0.59-1.26), and 3.00 (2.53-3.55) in women, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland, respectively. There were indications of increasing educational differences in Latvian men. Smoking was less common among rural women in all countries except Estonia. Conclusions: Estonia, Latvia, and Finland show characteristics of the "mature" phase of a smoking epidemic, and smoking may not increase in these countries. In Lithuanian women smoking may increase. Smoking may be increasingly unequally distributed in the future in all the studied countries.

Scand J Public Health. 2006 ;34 (4):353-62