The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
TT, VY, DC, and AS conceptualised and provided input into this study. TT analysed and drafted the manuscript. SS and AS designed and instituted the Thai Health-risk Transition research project. All authors approved the final manuscript.
In rich countries, smokers, active or passive, often belong to disadvantaged groups. Less is known of tobacco patterns in the developing world. Hence, we seek out to investigate mental and physical health consequences of smoke exposure as well as tobacco-related inequality in transitional middle-income Thailand.
We studied a nationwide cohort of 87,151 middle-aged and older adults that we have been following for eight years (2005–2013) for emerging chronic diseases. Logistic regression was used to identify attributes associated with passive smoke exposure. Longitudinal associations between smoke exposure and wellbeing (SF-8) or psychological distress (Kessler 6) were investigated with multiple linear regression or multivariate logistic regression analysis.
A high proportion of cohort members, especially females, were passive smokers at home and at public transport stations; males were more exposed at workplace and recreational places. We observed a social gradient with more passive smoking in poorer people. We also observed a dose response relationship linking graded smoke exposures (current, former, passive, non-exposed) to less wellbeing and more psychological distress (p-trend < 0.001). Female smokers in general had less wellbeing and more distress.
Our findings add to current knowledge on the impact of active and passive smoking on health in a transitional economy. Promotion of smoking cessation programs both in public and at home could also potentially reduce adverse disparities in health and wellbeing in middle and lower income settings such as Thailand.