Smoking declined drastically in 2014 in the U.S.. Nonetheless, there is still significant room for the continuation of the decreasing trend, with disparities between social groups still high.
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths with American adults. However, the latest Morbidity and Mortality Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that the number of American adults kicking the habit amounted to one full percentage point from 2013. Reported at 17.8 percent in 2013, American adults who still smoke in 2014 make up 16.8 percent of the population.
The decreasing trend is a success story for public health in the U.S. Taking into account that nearly 50 percent of American citizens were smoking in the 1960s, the percentage has dropped to a landmark 21 percent in 2005 and to 16.8 percent in 2014.
While it’s certainly good news that smoking declined drastically in 2014 in the U.S., these national numbers don’t put sufficient emphasis on the groups who are still fond of the hazardous habit. 43 percent of Americans who don’t have a graduate degree are prone to taking up the habit. Only 5 percent of U.S. citizens with a graduate degree are also smokers.
At the same time, nearly 30 percent of Medicaid-covered Americans are also smokers. Privately-insured Americans who are also smokers amount to roughly 13 percent. Smoking is essentially a problem of the poor at this point. The percentage of Medicaid-covered Americans who are smokers translated into six million people. Another nine million uninsured Americans are also smokers.
Professor of public health Keith Warner with the University of Michigan School of Public Health draw attention to these disparities:
“The people who are politically influential believe the smoking problem has been solved. It’s not in their neighbourhoods. 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.”
To begin addressing this issue, the federal government issued a proposal on Thursday that would ban smoking in public housing. The CDC report was based on data gathered by the National Health Interview Survey on 35,000 U.S. adults in 2014.
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