People living in areas of multiple deprivation are more likely to smoke and less likely to quit smoking. This study examines the effect on smoking and intention to quit smoking for those who have experienced housing improvements (HI) in deprived areas of Glasgow, UK, and investigates whether such effects can be explained by improved mental health.
Quasi-experimental, 2-year longitudinal study, comparing residents’ smoking and intention to quit smoking for HI group (n=545) with non-HI group (n=517), adjusting for baseline (2006) sociodemographic factors and smoking status. SF-12 mental health scores were used to assess mental health, along with self-reported experience of, and General Practitioner (GP) consultations for, anxiety and depression in the last 12 months.
There was no relationship between smoking and HI, adjusting for baseline rates (OR=0.97, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.67, p=0.918). We found an association between intention to quit and HI, which remained significant after adjusting for sociodemographics and previous intention to quit (OR 2.16, 95% CI 1.12 to 4.16, p=0.022). We found no consistent evidence that this association was attenuated by improvement in our three mental health measures.
Providing residents in disadvantaged areas with better housing may prompt them to consider quitting smoking. However, few people actually quit, indicating that residential improvements or changes to the physical environment may not be sufficient drivers of personal behavioural change. It would make sense to link health services to housing regeneration projects to support changes in health behaviours at a time when environmental change appears to make behavioural change more likely.