The U.S. government Centers for Disease Control has reported that, for the first time since 1994, the percentage of adults who smoke has increased over the previous year - from 19.8% to 21.0%. For men, the rate is 23.1% and for women it is 18.3%. The increase ended a steady decline in smoking from about 40% in the 1960s. The highest rate is among people aged 25-44 and the lowest by far is among people over 65 (many smokers likely die before reaching that age). American Indians and Inuits (Eskimos) have the highest rate of any group while Asians have the lowest rate by far. As to education, more than 40% of those with a GED degree smoke, while less than 6% of those with graduate degrees do. The smoking rate is more than 50% higher for people below the poverty line than those above it. The U.S. states with the highest percentages of smokers are West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky, while the states with the lowerst percentages of smokers are Utah, California, and New Jersey.
Perhaps the economic recession and its associated stress have driven people to smoke, or at least driven those who had quit back into smoking. The entertainment industry doesn't help any, as leading men and women are frequently depicted smoking, as if this makes them sexier or tougher. The upward trend is unfortunate because, according to the CDC, "cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for approximately 443,000 deaths or 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year." In addition, smoking drains a considerable amount of money from family budgets, worsening financial pressures.
We must continue to seek other ways of dealing with stress than smoking. Exercise is a great stress-reducer. It is very difficult to think about one's problems while lifting a heavy weight, pushing oneself on a treadmill, keeping up with a strenuous exercise class or playing with one's team against tough competition. In addition, exercise leads to feelings of relaxation and well-being. There are several approaches to quitting smoking. Our web site provides a listing of the methods proven most effective.