I live on the West Coast, where it is rare to see a smoker. Because it is not socially accepted, smokers are not out in the open. They lurk behind buildings to take a smoke break at work and I don’t even own an ashtray for friends because none of my friends smoke. But San Francisco isn’t the rest of America. In 2010 there were 45.5 million Americans who smoke, with men smoking more than women. Tobacco remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year approximately 433,000 people die of smoking-related illness.
Here are some more stats on American adult smokers. The highest prevalence is American Indians/Alaska Natives (31.4%) followed by whites (21%). Smoking incidence decreases with increasing education and improved economics. By region, the Midwest has the most smokers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia (22-27%). That is huge.
California and Utah have the lowest percentage of adult smokers at 9-12%.
During 2005-2010 the overall proportion of U.S. adult smokers declined, but not nearly as much as it should have. Also, the decline (about 3 million people) was not uniform across the population. The study of smokers was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and likely underestimates the number of current smokers. The fact that more than 1/5 Americans still smoke is a huge problem for our health care system. Here is a list of diseases that are associated with smoking:
I think most people know the risks of smoking. Nicotine smoke, like inhaled cocaine, moves into the bloodstream and up to the smoker’s brain within 7-10 seconds. It is not a “bad habit”, it is an addiction. But with more than 4000 toxic chemicals in nicotine, it is far worse on the body than other addictions.
Stopping smoking is one of the most healthful things a person can do for themselves.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*