If you take a minute to think about just how crazy smoking is, you might wonder why people do it. Not only do the health consequences make smoking a poor decision, the financial ramifications are pretty obvious as well. So why on earth do people still do it?
Smoking used to be cool. Those who lived in high society (doctors, lawyers, actors and actresses) smoked cigarettes like they were going out of style. This added to smoking's popularity, but even those in more poor areas saw it as one of their favorite activities. At one point, nearly half of all men and close to one third of women smoked. But as time went on, we learned of the damage that was happening to our bodies. We learned what smoking was doing to our social behaviors. As we became more aware of what was going on, those who were rich moved away from smoking while those in poorer areas kept at it. Why?
The New York Times recently reported on a study that describes how smoking is leaving bigger areas and sticking to the smaller areas: “This growing gap in smoking rates between rich and poor is helping drive inequality in health outcomes, experts say, with, for example, white women on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder now living shorter lives.“Smoking is leaving these fancy places, these big urban areas,” said Ali H. Mokdad, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and an author of the study. “But it has remained in these poor and rural areas. They are getting left behind.”
Just How Many People Are Still Smoking?
Ultimately, adults have the ability to do what they want (for the most part), and rightly so. If someone wants to smoke, they can smoke. What happens when it’s someone you love, though? Obviously you want them to stop, but this can be difficult if they have become addicted.
The study showed that people who have lower levels of education were much more likely to smoke than those who had furthered their education from a higher learning institution. One staggering number from the study says that “Americans with a high school education or less make up 40 percent of the population, but they account for 55 percent of the nation’s 42 million smokers… and the smoking rate for adults has fallen 27 percent, but among the poor it has declined just 15 percent, according to the analysis. And among adults living in deep poverty in the South and Midwest, the smoking rate has not changed at all.”
Hopefully as time moves forward, we will be able to help those who continue to smoke realize that there is a much better way to live their lives. The benefits they will see from quitting go far beyond breaking a bad habit, as they’ll be considerably healthier and spending less money.
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