Disparities In Tobacco Use Among Races, Classes
Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of premature death and disease worldwide. Currently, approximately 5.4 million people die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses—a figure expected to increase to more than 8 million a year by 2030. An efficient and systematic surveillance mechanism to monitor the epidemic is one of the essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control program.
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.
Although cigarette smoking has declined significantly since 1964, disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by race, ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic status and across regions of the country.
- Although African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking cigarettes at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than whites.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking compared to all other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Some American Indians use tobacco for ceremonial, religious, or medicinal purposes. For this reason, it is important to make the distinction between commercial and traditional tobacco use.
- Cigarette smoking among Asian American/Pacific Islander adults is lower than other racial ethnic groups. However, prevalence varies among sub-groups within the Asian American/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian population.
- Hispanic/Latino adults generally have lower prevalence of cigarette smoking and other tobacco use than other racial/ethnic groups, with the exception of Asian Americans.4,5 However, prevalence varies among sub-groups within the Hispanic population.
- Cigarette smoking among LGB individuals in the U.S. is higher than among heterosexual/straight individuals. Nearly 1 in 4 LGB adults smoke cigarettes compared with about 1 in 6 heterosexual/straight adults.
- People living below the poverty level and people having lower levels of educational attainment have higher rates of cigarette smoking than the general population.4,5 Among people having only a GED certificate, smoking prevalence is more than 40%, the highest of any SES group.
- Approximately 25% of adults in the U.S. have some form of mental illness or substance use disorder, and these adults consume almost 40% of all cigarettes smoked by adults.
- Tobacco use, including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars, varies by geographic region within the United States. People living in certain regions and communities often suffer more from poor health because of tobacco use, especially cigarette smoking.1
- By U.S. census region, prevalence of cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is highest among people living in the Midwest (25.4%) and the South (24.2%), and lowest among those living in the Northeast (21.3%) and West (18.0%) regions.2 People in the Midwest and South also tend to use multiple types of tobacco products, such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The health of people living in rural areas is impacted by tobacco use more so than those in urban and metropolitan areas, often because of socioeconomic factors, culture, policies, and lack of proper healthcare. In general, rates of death attributable to smoking are lower in states with lower prevalence of smoking.
For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).