Surprising Smoking Statistics and What Are the Odds?

smoking statistics

Every time that you light up a cigarette, you are feeding an addiction. You reinforce that behavior pattern that hurts your body. It’s hard to imagine yourself as a statistic, but smokers are not the norm anymore. A recent headline from the Washington Post reads: “America’s new tobacco crisis: The rich stopped smoking, the poor didn’t.” We looked into the matter and discovered some interesting facts. Not only do people with less education smoke more, but people belonging to certain groups have radically higher smoking rates than their counterparts.

What is the Smoking Rate?

On the other hand, there’s a widening gap between the smoking habits of the rich and the poor. Like so many other gaps between classes in America, are you really shocked?

What is the Smoking Rate Amongst the Poor?

Another way to look at the smoking rate, which is the focus of this article, is who is currently buying cigarettes. We would love to understand why they buy them, too. When you review the data, the smoking rate among people with a high-school-equivalency diploma is greater than 40 percent (per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This is a staggering contrast with the national smoking rate (15 percent). What’s more, rural residents receive diagnoses of lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent higher than the rates of people living in cities. It stops and makes you wonder where the opportunities are and how consumers make choices that impact their health.

These are influenced in part by their income level and living conditions. Who would have imagined that living in the country and having less education would be associated with higher rates of lung cancer?

Look Deeper

We were concerned by the class differences between people who buy cigarettes and smoke them and people who don’t. We decided to look more closely at the data from the Centers for Disease Control, which publishes fact sheets representing trends among current smokers. Here are some other population groups with higher rates of smoking:


If you are a man, you are more likely to smoke. The smoking rate is 16.7 percent among men and 13.6 percent among women.

Youngsters Vs. Seniors

If you are in the age brackets of 18–24 years, 25–44 years, and 45–64 years, you are more likely to be a smoker than those aged 65 years and older. The highest rate of 17.7 percent is among adults aged 25 to 44.

Some Ethnic Groups May Smoke More

The people with the highest smoking rate are non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaskan Natives and people of multiple races. The people with the lowest smoking rate are Asians. If you are in the former group, the smoking rate is 21.0 percent. If you are in the latter group, the smoking rate is only 7 percent. That’s a big difference.

People With Higher Education Smoke Less

People with the highest amounts of education smoke at single-digit percentage rates, but people with associates degrees or lesser amounts of education are in the double-digit percentage rates. People with four-year degrees smoke at a rate of 7.4 percent, and people with graduate degrees smoke at a rate of 3.6 percent. People with less than a high school diploma smoke at a rate of 24.2 percent, which is about eight percentage points less than people with a GED certification (34.1 percent).

People With the Lowest Income Smoke More Than All Others

People who live below the poverty level have a smoking rate of 26.1 percent, but people who live at or above the poverty level have a smoking rate of 13.9 percent. The latter percent is a little more than half the rate of people living in poverty.

People With Different Sexual Orientations Smoke More

People who have a straight orientation have a smoking rate of 14.9 percent. By contrast, people who identify as bisexual, lesbian, or gay have a smoking rate of 20.6 percent.

People With Disabilities Smoke More

Individuals with a disability smoke at a rate of 21.5 percent; however, individuals without a disability smoke at a rate of 13.8 percent.

What You Can Do

When you think about it, you could be a person who belongs to one of multiple demographic groups with higher smoking rates. We do know that quitting smoking can improve your health and extend your life. It helps to look at the different types of smokers and to determine what induces you to smoke. If you eliminate the causes of smoking in your life or minimise them, you have a greater chance of becoming a non-smoker for good.

This is a lot of information to take in all at once, but smokers should be aware that their habit directly affects their health. Smokers have a greater risk of developing lung cancer, but they also have a greater risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s hope for smokers, if you still need assistance, please contact us today.

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