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U.S. Smoking Rate Drops, But Vulnerable Continue To Smoke

Smoker Smoking

According to new data out of the Centers for Disease Control, smoking is on the decline in the United States.

The CDC report, which was released on Thursday, shows a one percent decrease in comparison to 2013, from 17.8 percent to 16.8 percent. In 2005, the rate of U.S. adults smoking was considerably higher, 20.9 percent according to the report.

As for male smokers in comparison to female smokers, the CDC reported that males smoke more – 4 percent more to be exact.

Smoking is, in the United States, the leading cause of preventable death.

In comparison to the 1960s, the rate of American smokers is looking dramatically better as in the 60s, nearly half the American population smoked.

The New York Times points out that the numbers “mask” the vulnerable Americans, as the CDC’s numbers show that 43 percent of the less educated Americans were smoking in 2014 and only 5 percent of those with a graduate degree were reportedly smoking during the same year.

Roughly 33 percent of Medicaid insured Americans smoked in 2014; this in contrast to the just 13 percent of privately insured Americans.

Dr. Kenneth E. Warner, a University of Michigan School of Public Health professor of public health, was quoted by the NY Times as having said that the “politically influential believe the smoking problem has been solved” because their friends aren’t smoking and it’s “not in their neighborhoods,” but the poor, disenfranchised and mentally ill are still smoking and that is “who we need to focus on.”

Disparities are the single most important issue in smoking (…) 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.

Amongst those with nothing more than a high school equivalency diploma, the rate of smokers remained almost the same. For those with only a high school diploma, smoking saw a roughly 12 percent drop down to 22 percent.

The American Lung Association reports smoking-related ailments to account for over 15 percent of Medicaid’s annual spending between 2006 and 2010, which amounts to roughly $39 billion a year.

Alaskan Natives and American Indians had the highest rate of smokers — roughly 29 percent.

Next came mixed race Americans, of which roughly 28 percent were reported to smoke.

Hispanics smoked at a lower rate than blacks and whites, 11 percent in comparison to about 18 percent.

The United States federal government proposed a smoking ban on Thursday that would prohibit smoking in public housing across the nation — impacting what TIME reports will be more than 700,000 homes if it goes into play.

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