Tobacco use and food insecurity in New Brunswick

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training


Is smoking tobacco associated with higher rates of food insecurity? Food insecurity refers to a range of experiences – from concerns about running out of food before having enough money to buy more to not eating for a whole day due to a lack of food and money for food. Food insecurity is most prevalent in households with lower incomes, and food insecure families can find themselves in difficult situations in which they have to decide whether to “heat or eat.” In this report, researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT), the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Toronto examine the relationship between smoking and food insecurity to see if families are also faced with the decision to either “smoke or eat.” Using 2007-2017 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey this report asks whether smoking raises the risk of being food insecure, or smoking has no cause effect on food insecurity due to shared characteristics between smokers and food insecure households. The results show that households with smokers are more likely to be food insecure, though, food insecurity has a stronger relationship with poor health and well-being than tobacco use. Apart from the impact of smoking on food insecurity, this report also finds that individuals most likely to be food insecure are families with younger respondents, females, individuals with low levels of education, renters, urban dwellers, Aboriginals, and recent immigrants. The authors recommend a focus on implementing programs such as counselling, rather than higher taxation on cigarettes, as strategies to decrease tobacco use, as the latter could reduce the purchasing power of families’ incomes, including income available for food.