Whaaaaat? We Still Have a Problem Here?

I had a wake up call recently in my California tobacco control bubble.  What was it, you may ask?

Well, many states throughout the country have made great strides when it comes to comprehensive tobacco control programs that include keeping public and common areas smoke-free.   These efforts have resulted in a nationwide decline in tobacco use over the years.  So far, so good, right?

Not quite, according to the newly released Centers for Disease Control study.   The CDC reports that 1 in 5 Americans still smoke.  While smoking rates HAVE declined over the past 4 decades, they have stabilized in the last 5 years in particular.  Here are some highlights from the study:

• Smoking rates are higher among men- 24 percent as compared to 18 percent for women.

• There are disparities when it comes to education: 26% of people who have less than a high-school education smoke, as compared to 11% of college graduates.

• Thirty-one percent of people who live below the poverty level smoke, while only 20% of those who earn above the poverty level do so.

• More people smoke in the Midwest and Southeastern states and fewer do so in the Northeast and Western states.  At 26%, Kentucky’s rate is twice as high as California’s rate!

While this news is sobering, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The tobacco industry is continuously developing new and sneaky ways to target young and old smokers alike. 

Now that I’m brought back to reality, I thought about how I took for granted how far California has come in passing smoke-free policies.  I realize again that there is so much more to be done in areas that don’t have strong tobacco control and prevention programs.

How did you react to the CDC study?        

–Jeannie Nguyen

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