Brazil was a low and middle-income country (LMIC) in the late-1980s when it implemented a robust national tobacco-control program (NTCP) amidst rapid gains in national incomes and gender equality. We assessed changes in smoking prevalence between 1989 and 2013 by education level and related these changes to trends in educational inequalities in smoking. Data were from four nationally representative cross-sectional surveys (1989, n = 25,298; 2003 n = 3845; 2008 n = 28,938; 2013 n = 47,440, ages 25–69 years). We estimated absolute (slope index of inequality, SII) and relative (relative index of inequality, RII) educational inequalities in smoking prevalence, separately for males and females. Additional analyses stratified by birth-cohort to assess generational differences. Smoking declined significantly between 1989 and 2013 in all education groups but declines among females were steeper in higher-educated groups. Consequently, both absolute and relative educational inequalities in female smoking widened threefold between 1989 and 2013 (RII: 1.31 to 3.60, SII: 5.3 to 15.0), but absolute inequalities in female smoking widened mainly until 2003 (SII: 15.8). Conversely, among males, declines were steeper in higher-educated groups only in relative terms. Thus, relative educational inequalities in male smoking widened between 1989 and 2013 (RII: 1.58 to 3.19) but mainly until 2008 (3.22), whereas absolute equalities in male smoking were unchanged over the 24-year period (1989: 21.1 vs. 2013: 23.2). Younger-cohorts (born ≥1965) had wider relative inequalities in smoking vs. older-cohorts at comparable ages, particularly in the youngest female-cohorts (born 1979–1988). Our results suggest that younger lower-SES groups, especially females, may be particularly vulnerable to differentially higher smoking uptake in LMICs that implement population tobacco-control efforts amidst rapid societal gains.
- Low- and middle-income countries
- Population programs
- Socioeconomic status
- Tobacco control
- Tobacco smoking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health