Smoking rate continues to decline

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 27, 2005

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The number of people who smoke cigarettes has continued to go down. It is not, however, going down fast enough to reach Healthy People 2010 goals, and the decrease is not uniform in all ethnic and racial groups, according to the May 27 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to data gathered from the National Health Interview Survey, 21.6% of adults were smokers in 2003, a decrease from the 22.5% in 2002 but still a long way from the Healthy People 2010 goal of 12%. Smoking by women dipped below 20% for the first time to 19.2%. Smoking among those ages 18 to 24 dipped to 23.9%, the lowest rate since 1991.

The survey also found that smoking rates are significantly higher among American Indians and Alaska Natives, those living at the poverty level, and those with lower levels of education.

This data has also been corroborated by other, more localized studies. For example, a paper in the June American Journal of Public Health, comparing Chicago neighborhoods, found smoking rates in poor, African-American neighborhoods double that of wealthier Caucasian areas.

"We hope that public health policy-makers and foundations will use this new data as a stimulus for effectively targeting communities and individuals who most need help to stop smoking," said Steven Whitman, PhD, one of the authors and director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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