Who's still smoking: Report highlights populations still at risk

January 31, 2018

Although tobacco control measures have reduced overall smoking rates in the United States (from 42% in 1965 to 15% in 2015), a new report says several vulnerable subpopulations continue to smoke at high rates. The report by American Cancer Society investigators calls high rates of smoking among specific subpopulations one of the most pressing challenges facing the tobacco control community.

Investigators led by Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., writing in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, say these populations include individuals in lower education and/or socioeconomic groups; from certain racial/ethnic groups; in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community; with mental illness; and in the military, particularly among those in the lowest pay grades.

Education

Although smoking prevalence in the United States has decreased in all education groups over the last one-half century, the largest decrease has been among those who are college-educated. Fifty years ago, smoking prevalence for all education groups was fairly clustered, with nearly 40% of college-educated individuals smoking along with approximately 45% of individuals in all other education groups. Five decades later, 6.5% of college-educated individuals continue to smoke, while the prevalence is more than triple that among those with a high school education or less (23.1%).

Income

Although all income groups experienced overall declines in smoking over the last few decades, the largest relative decreases have been with higher socioeconomic groups. In 2015 and 2016, current tobacco use prevalence was about 10% for adults in higher income households (greater than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level) compared with almost 25% for adults in households below the poverty line.

Race/Ethnicity

Among all racial and ethnic groups, there has mostly been a downward trend for both men and women, but there also remains considerable variation. Individuals who are of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent exhibit the highest smoking prevalence (24.3% male and 23.4 female), and women in this group also experienced a recent upward trend after a nearly two-decade downward trend. Individuals of Asian and Hispanic/Latino descent have the lowest prevalence of smoking (12.6% male and 3.5% female).

Mental Illness

The burden from smoking has been particularly high on individuals struggling with mental illness. Past 30-day cigarette smoking prevalence among people with a past year serious mental illness was more than double those without a past-year mental illness (27.9% versus 12.9%). There is also significant variation among different mental illnesses. Smoking prevalence was highest among those with schizophrenia, at nearly 60%. Individuals with such disorders may also experience additional risk factors, such as the easy availability of tobacco in some treatment centers.

A recent analysis found smoking among individuals with a serious psychological distress accounted for two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy relative to nonsmokers without a serious psychiatric disorder. Evidence suggests that some individuals with mental illness may have a genetic predisposition toward addiction and/or may self-medicate using nicotine.

Sexual Orientation

Smoking prevalence rates among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) men and women in the United States are significantly higher than those among heterosexuals. Studies show the social stresses of living in a society that can be hostile to individuals in the LGBT community contribute to the higher prevalence.

Furthermore, the authors say, the tobacco industry has for many years marketed specifically to the LGBT community, placing advertisements in community media outlets, attending pride festivals to hand out coupons for discounted cigarettes, and promoting their products in LGBT bars.

Military

Smoking in the military has trended significantly downward in recent decades, mirroring trends in the general population. In 1980, more than one-half of military personnel reported smoking. By 2011, smoking prevalence had dropped to less than one-quarter. Smoking rates are still significantly higher in the military than in the general population (24% in 2011, the most recent reliable survey). And disparities by pay grade within the military persist. For service members in the lowest 4 pay grades of enlisted members (E1-E4), smoking prevalence remained around 30% in 2011. In contrast, smoking prevalence in the highest 6 pay grades of commissioned officers (O4-O10) had dropped below 5%.

Geography

Smoking prevalence varies considerably across states, from 8.7% in Utah to 26.2% in Kentucky. There is a smoking belt leading from Michigan to Mississippi, including several adjacent states in the Midwest and Appalachia, where smoking prevalence is substantially above the national average. The Truth Initiative calls this "Tobacco Nation" and points to several driving factors, including policy, culture, and the strong and persistent influence of the tobacco industry in this region.

"The high prevalence of cigarette smoking among vulnerable populations is one of the most pressing challenges facing the tobacco control community," write the authors. "More attention to and support for promising novel interventions, in addition to new attempts at reaching these populations through conventional interventions that have proven to be effective, are crucial going forward to find new ways to address these disparities."
-end-
Article: Who's Still Smoking? Disparities in Adult Cigarette Smoking Prevalence in the United States; CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians doi: 10.3322/caac.21444.

URL upon publication: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21444/full

American Cancer Society

Related Smoking Articles from Brightsurf:

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady
While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly.

What is your risk from smoking? Your network knows!
A new study from researchers at Penn's Annenberg School for Communication found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to questions about smoking's health effects.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.

Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.

Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.

Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.

A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.

Read More: Smoking News and Smoking Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.