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Tobacco use patterns in tuberculosis patients with high rates of human immunodeficiency virus co-infection in South Africa

Goedele MC Louwagie1* and Olalekan A Ayo-Yusuf12

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X 323, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

2 Department of Community Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1031  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1031

Published: 31 October 2013



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.


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 (Nā€‰=ā€‰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.


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 7ā€“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).


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.

Tuberculosis; Tobacco; Human immunodeficiency virus