Comparisons of social and demographic determinants of tobacco use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Brian Colwell, Kizito B.A. Mosema, Matthew S. Bramble, Jay Maddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Worldwide, tobacco use has caused over 100 million deaths in the twentieth century and is projected to cause death in up to one billion people in the twenty-first century. It is a leading cause of early death and disability in over 100 countries and accounts for over 11% of global deaths, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of the study was to examine a variety of social determinants of tobacco use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including region, sex, ethnicity, education, literacy, wealth index and place of residence, to gain insights with regard to tobacco use among sub-national groups. Methods: This project was a secondary data analysis of the 2013-2014 Demographics and Health Survey (DHS) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Logistic regressions predicting smoking, use of snuff and smoking cigars or natural tobacco as dichotomous variables were conducted. Independent variables included age, educational level, religion, rurality, literacy, wealth index, occupation and ethnicity. Results: Tobacco use is highest among those with less education and low literacy. It was also highest among the working poor. Older age and living in larger cities were predictive of smoking, although the relationship between age and smoking was not linear. There was a strong linear effect for wealth. Being in a professional, technical or managerial position was highly protective against smoking while being engaged in services, skilled and unskilled manual labor, and the army had significantly greater odds of smoking. Conclusions: Data indicate that tobacco use in the DRC, as is common in the developing world, is heavily concentrated in the working poor with lower educational status. Higher educational status is consistently predictive of avoiding tobacco use. Additionally, examining only national-level data to ascertain tobacco use levels and patterns may lead to mistaken conclusions that can lead to inefficient and ineffective allocation of resources aimed at controlling tobacco use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
Pages (from-to)66
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2020


  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Demographic and health survey
  • Smoking
  • Snuff
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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