U.S. federal health authorities are reporting that smoking rates are declining across the country. The smoking rate was 17.8% in 2013 but last year that number dipped to 16.8%. The push to stop what is the leading preventable cause of death has been prevalent since the 1960’s, when half the population smoked cigarettes; however, it seems poorer Americans are slower to get the message. Although the national average is down considerably, figures show that individuals without a graduate degree are still smoking at a rate of 43%. Furthermore, one in three American adults who rely on Medicaid also smokes, costing the program roughly $39 billion a year.
Just five percent of Americans who do hold a degree are smokers. The number increases slightly to 13% of individuals with private insurance. Close to 10 million uninsured Americans are reported to be smokers.
Dr. Kenneth E. Warner, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan says, “The people who are politically influential believe the smoking problem has been solved. It’s not in their neighborhoods. Their friends don’t smoke. Those who still smoke are the poor, the disenfranchised, the mentally ill. That’s who we need to focus on.”
The number of poor Americans who smoke hasn’t changed significantly in the last decade. Americans who are just above the poverty line have reduced the habit to the tune of 22% over the same time period. Alaskans and Natives boast the highest smoking rates at 29% and mixed race Americans smoke at a rate of approximately 28%.
Hispanics had one of the lowest smoking rates at 11% in 2014, while African Americans and Caucasians smoked at the same rate, approximately 18%. These figures were provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Source for Today’s Article”
Tavernise, S., “U.S Smoking Rate Declines but Poor Remain at Higher Risk,” New York Times web site, November 12, 2015; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/13/health/us-smoking-rate-cdc-report.html?_r=0.