A cross sectional survey of internet use among a highly socially disadvantaged population of tobacco smokers

Sam McCrabb, Laura Twyman, Kerrin Palazzi, Ashleigh Guillaumier, Christine Paul, Billie Bonevski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Tobacco smoking is highest among population groups which are the most socially disadvantaged. Internet-based smoking cessation programs have been found to be effective, though rates of internet access are not well known in these groups. This study describes the rates of internet use and types of technology used to access the internet by a population of socially disadvantaged smokers. The study also examined relationships between sociodemographic and smoking behaviours with amount of internet use and type of device used. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 369 clients (response rate 77%) from two non-government community service organisations in metropolitan New South Wales, Australia was conducted using touchscreen computers. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were used to examine results. Results: Eligible participants ranged from 19 to 88 years old current tobacco users. Over half (58%) of the participants reported weekly or more frequent use of the internet with less than a third (28%) not having any access. The odds of using the internet at least weekly decreased with age and as heaviness of smoking increased (OR = 0.94, p < 0.001; OR = 0.81, p = 0.022, respectively). Odds of internet use were higher as income increased (OR = 2.74, p < 0.001 for individuals earning $201-$400 per week; OR = 2.83, p = 0.006 for individuals earning > $400 per week). Device use differed for age and income. Conclusions: Internet-based interventions appear to reach the majority of socially disadvantaged populations. It is expected that this reach will continue to grow, making internet-based interventions a potential platform for providing care to low socioeconomic individuals who smoke, however inequalities may be exacerbated for those individual without internet access. Implications: Internet use among socially disadvantaged tobacco users is moderate (58%). An internet-based smoking cessation intervention for socially disadvantaged tobacco users may be an effective intervention however, older, heavier tobacco users may not benefit as easily due to limited internet access and therefore acknowledging these limitations when developing an intervention can help to acknowledge limitation of intervention reach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet utilization (mesh term)
  • Smoking cessation
  • Social disadvantage


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