BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) patients who smoke tobacco are at an increased risk for adverse TB treatment
outcomes. This study describes tobacco use patterns among newly diagnosed TB patients, their readiness to quit,
and their beliefs about tobacco-related health effects in a high HIV-burden setting in South Africa. Socio-economic
and demographic factors associated with smoking were also determined.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data collected for a smoking cessation study at six large
tuberculosis clinics in a South African township (N = 1926). We collected information on current and past tobacco
use, socio-economic and demographic status, beliefs regarding the harmful effects of smoking and quit behaviour,
and motivation, using structured interviewer-administered questionnaires. TB- and HIV-related information was
obtained from patient records. Data analysis entailed descriptive statistics, followed by multivariate logistic
regression with backward elimination, adjusted for clustering by facility.
RESULTS: Just over one fifth of respondents (21.8%, 420/1924) reported currently smoking tobacco (males 37.6%,
females 4.6%). By contrast, only 1.8% (35/1918) of all respondents reported being past smokers. Of the current
smokers, about half (51.8%, 211/407) had previously attempted to quit, mainly for health reasons. The majority of
respondents (89.3%, 1675/1875) believed tobacco smoking was harmful for their health and smokers were highly
motivated to quit (median score 9, interquartile range 7–10). Smoking was less common among female
respondents (Odds Ratio [OR] 0.10, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.06-0.19) and respondents who had completed
high school (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.39-0.84), but was more common among respondents who do occasional work
(OR 2.82, 95% CI 1.58-5.02), respondents who to bed hungry regularly (OR 4.19, 95% CI 2.42-7.25), those who have
an alcohol problem (OR 5.79, 95% CI 3.24-10.34) and those who use illicit substances (OR 10.81, 95% CI 4.62-25.3).
CONCLUSIONS: Despite documented evidence of its harmful effects, smoking is prevalent among male TB patients in
this high HIV-prevalence population. Few patients have managed to quit smoking on their own. However, patients
are highly motivated to stop smoking. We recommend implementing and evaluating a smoking cessation
programme in tandem with TB services.