Adolescent alcohol and tobacco use and early socio-economic position: the ALSPAC birth cohort

R Melotti, J Heron, M Hickman, JAA Macleod, R Araya, G Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between use of alcohol and cigarettes among adolescents and their early socioeconomic background.

METHODS: Members of a longitudinal birth cohort (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children [ALSPAC], United Kingdom) were invited to attend a personal interview. A total of 5837 children aged 13 years were asked about previous consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Information on parental socioeconomic position, collected from questionnaires from the mother, included both social class and education of the expectant mother and her partner and average household disposable income in early preschool childhood. The impact of missing data was assessed by multiple imputation.

RESULTS: Consuming a drink of alcohol in the previous 6 months was linearly associated with higher income levels even when adjusting for other socioeconomic indicators. In contrast, both the risk of binge drinking and recent drinking was lower for children whose mothers had a higher educational level. Smoking tobacco was associated with lower socioeconomic position irrespective of the indicator used. Analyses after imputation of missing data confirmed these associations.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol drinking was more common in young people from higher-income households but less common with higher levels of maternal education. A consistent inverse socioeconomic gradient with tobacco smoking was apparent. These results may reflect how different aspects of socioeconomic position can influence health behavior in opposing directions. Higher income may increase the availability of alcohol in the family, whereas mothers with higher educational attainment might encourage more healthy behaviors in their children, including reduced alcohol use.

Translated title of the contributionAdolescent alcohol and tobacco use and early socio-economic position: the ALSPAC birth cohort
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e948 - e955
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholic Intoxication
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Selection Bias
  • Smoking
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors


Dive into the research topics of 'Adolescent alcohol and tobacco use and early socio-economic position: the ALSPAC birth cohort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this