Report: Poorest Americans smoke most

Smoking is bad for humans and immediately distastrous for snowmen, experts say. (AP photo)

Smoking is bad for humans and immediately distastrous for snowmen, experts say. (AP photo)

Sucking on a burning plant is bad for your health.

That fact hasn’t been news since the U.S. surgeon general first warned Americans of the dangers of smoking way back in 1964.

Since that big story broke, labels on cigarettes warning smokers of cancer and other health risks have grown larger and larger, the tobacco industry pay for anti-smoking ads on TV and Hollywood has quit paying celebs to destroy their lungs.

Smoking rates have gone down, but not so much among the less affluent, reports The New York Times, which says “smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.”

Here’s what the Times had to say about the federal smoking data released Monday:

It found that affluent counties across the nation have experienced the biggest, and fastest, declines in smoking rates, while progress in the poorest ones has stagnated. The findings are particularly stark for women: About half of all high-income counties showed significant declines in the smoking rate for women, but only 4 percent of poor counties did, the analysis found.

Since 1997, the smoking rate for adults has fallen 27 percent, but among the poor it has declined just 15 percent, according to the analysis.

The decline in smoking rates in Georgia trails the national average significantly.

The Times provides an interesting map that show smoking rates declined about 5 percent in the Atlanta region from 1996 to 2012. (Note: I included the following counties in my quick research — Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Henry, Gwinnett.)

Forsyth County, the wealthiest in Georgia with a median household income of $84,000, also has the lowest smoking rate in metro Atlanta, 15 percent. Also, from 1996 to 2012, the smoking rate in Forsyth declined the most in our area — 7 percent.

The poorest county in our immediate area is Clayton, with a median household income of $44,000. Twenty-two percent of adults there smoke, the highest in the metro area. The rate of decline was about average — 5 percent.

DeKalb is the second poorest county in our area with a median household income of $49,000. Eighteen percent of adults smoke in DeKalb, down only 2 percent, but DeKalb had the lowest smoking rate in our area in 1996.

Which Georgia county smokes the most? That would be Brantley County in southeast Georgia. If you’ve ever driven from Valdosta to St. Simons you drove right through it.

In Brantley, where the median household income is $30,000, an amazing 30 percent of adults still smoke.

The poorest county in Georgia, Hancock, has a household income of only $22,000. The smoking rate there has increased from 26 to 27 percent since 1996. I don’t recall driving through there lately, though in pre-GPS days I once got lost looking for the Uncle Remus Museum and it may have happened.

Since wealthier people tend to live in metropolitan areas that tend to adopt ordinances that ban smoking in public places, one could argue it is the ordinances that are getting people to kick the nasty habit.

Forsyth, however, has no anti-smoking ordinance. Atlanta, located in Fulton County, bans smoking in parks, and has the second fewest smokers (16 percent).

Here’s a chart you may find interesting:

County name – Percent of smokers – Median household income

Forsyth – 15 – $84,800

Cobb – 16 – $70,400

Fayette – 16 – $71,200

Fulton – 16 – $49,300

Gwinnett – 16 – $60,500

DeKalb – 18 – $49,100

Cherokee – 19 – $60,900

Henry – 21 – $64,200

Clayton – 22 – $44,400

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95 comments Add your comment

commenter

March 26th, 2014
10:33 am

They also have the most tattoos and children they can’t afford

Burroughston Broch

March 26th, 2014
10:38 am

Another correlation between low economic status and unhealthy behavior. Those who can least afford cigarettes use them more. I see this at a convenience store where single parents, each with 3 or 4 not-well-kept children in tow, buy cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets.

SAWB

March 26th, 2014
10:39 am

It would be interesting to see what the level of education is for smokers. I suspect lower levels of education are the reason these individuals smoke and have less income than others in the region.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
10:48 am

Not only is Smoking expensive and unhealthy for The USER. It is quite expensive for ALL of US as well. More than 60% of the U.S. Medicaid Healthcare Dollars is spent on treating smoking related Illnesses every year. Billions!

ObamaNation

March 26th, 2014
10:48 am

Wanna bet Food Stamps are sold to finance a sizable portion of that tobacco consumption?

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
10:50 am

I use my EBT card NO BIGGIE uh…huh

richard "dick" head

March 26th, 2014
10:51 am

the poor keep smoking and we have to keep payin when they get sick

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
10:56 am

Bernie31 @ 10:50 am – So Nice to have adoring Fans…Thank-you!
Yeah Boy!

GaPatriot

March 26th, 2014
11:00 am

They need to smoke when they down those beers – just goes together. They also have a lot more time on their hands, no job to get to. No need to get a job either. Someone has to watch the kids.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
11:01 am

ObamaNation @ 10:48 am – Wanna Bet Sarah Palin does Not have a Brain…too!

Andy

March 26th, 2014
11:09 am

Not only is Smoking expensive and unhealthy for The USER. It is quite expensive for ALL of US as well. More than 60% of the U.S. Medicaid Healthcare Dollars is spent on treating smoking related Illnesses every year. Billions!

======

All the more reason why us who are self supportive and not living off the gubbermint don’t need to support any more Medicaid.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
11:17 am

Andy @ 11:09 am – What will ye say to the Republican Masters who say SAVE THE TOBACCO Corporations,Farmers, Truckers,Pickers, Taxes and Jobs?

uh..huh

billy bob

March 26th, 2014
11:20 am

they be usin the EBT cards fo they food that way they can spends they money on impotent thangs likes 40’s,cig’s and blounts

@eidsonb

March 26th, 2014
11:22 am

life is all about choices….

ObamaNation

March 26th, 2014
11:24 am

Wanna bet Bernie’s spent at least SOME of this morning finally looking for a job?
Uh-uh.

joe

March 26th, 2014
11:24 am

Bernie, Sarah Palin’s brain is 100x more intelligent than yours. At least she can form complete sentences and use correct grammar.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:01 pm

joe@11:24 am – Is this why one of Sarah’s Nickname is WORD SALAD?

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:02 pm

Becky is Pregnant AGAIN! Your Becky! Uh..huh.

GOPNation

March 26th, 2014
12:10 pm

GOPNation

March 26th, 2014
12:10 pm

All part of the plan….HE HE…:)

GOPNation

March 26th, 2014
12:11 pm

Hey….it’s there own fault uh uh……

GOPNation

March 26th, 2014
12:12 pm

Hey…..now they can get health care —maybe the numbers will go down within the next few years…..

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:15 pm

ObamaNation @11:24 am – ya want a Light to Go with that CANCER…I mean Cigarette?

Andy

March 26th, 2014
12:17 pm

Bernie is hung up on his invisible friends like Becky, Pookie and God.

uh…huh

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:19 pm

Andy@ 12:17 pm – Now, Tell Us just who is HUNG UP in YOU? …..He is sometimes referred to as The Angel of Light. and He Really LOVES Smoking! uh…huh.

Becky

March 26th, 2014
12:25 pm

Bernie31 is SMOKING hot for some Becky.

LQQK at how much and how often he mentions my name … Becky.

Bernie31 is thirsty 4 Becky!

uh…huh

Becky

March 26th, 2014
12:27 pm

Bernie31 smokes him a few packs everytime he thinks of Becky

uh…huh

Scam watcher

March 26th, 2014
12:42 pm

Dumbest people on earth. They can’t afford groceries, clothing their children, health care,etc but the morons can afford burning dollars and sleazy, thuggish tattoos,lol.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:48 pm

Becky@12:25 pm – You going to the CLINIC as we agreed? or are we going to say its DAD?

bulls_3y3

March 26th, 2014
12:49 pm

oh lQQK bernie31 is typing with one hand again, must be daydreaming about the boys locker room again. Sicko

Andy

March 26th, 2014
12:53 pm

Dumbest people on earth. They can’t afford groceries, clothing their children, health care,etc but the morons can afford burning dollars and sleazy, thuggish tattoos,lol.

======

But the entitlement craving liberals like Bernie, think us productive folks in society owe these people even more tax money for things like expanded medicaid and they just can’t figure out why we don’t want to give these people any more money.

Ralph-43

March 26th, 2014
12:54 pm

Poverty correlates with lack of education as does smoking. Too bad these people did not have access to the best education, smoking cessation programs (Medicaid Expansion), and early diagnosis and treatment of mild smoking related disease. Once cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease develop – the person is unemployable, requires food stamps and unemployment insurance, all holdings are liquidated, the children are without support, and the patient is then eligible for Medicaid. This person has not have made the best decisions, because he/she is living in a society that has made terrible decisions which have forced him into this shortened, unpleasant, non-productive, and tax-payer expensive life. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
12:54 pm

bulls_3y3 @ 12:49 pm – get Off yer KNEES BOY! and wipe yer Mouth! We heard about EWE!

Ralph-43

March 26th, 2014
12:57 pm

When evaluating a neighborhood, I start by visualizing the presence of any graffiti, note if cigarette butts are on the ground, and finish up with an assessment of the amount of broken glass. Uncollected trash on the ground precludes the need for the first three.

Andy

March 26th, 2014
12:58 pm

Poverty correlates with lack of education as does smoking………

========

Because none of the ‘poor’ counties mentioned above have public school system? Let me guess, we should throw a few thousand dollars more per child’s head in each of these counties on top of expanded Medicaid? More money via bigger government is always the answer for the liberals and the poor yet it hasn’t worked in the last 50 years at least not with the black part of the population which the Democrats thought they could raise.

bulls_3y3

March 26th, 2014
1:01 pm

march madness must be overwhelming for sicko; 64 teams running around in shorts & tees. OT must be divine

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
1:07 pm

Ralph-43@ 12:57 pm – Parked Cars in Front of the House is My first clue…ever been to North Georgia?

Ralph-43

March 26th, 2014
1:07 pm

Looks like the anti-Bernie brigade ran out of anything important to do. Can’t find a job? If you would clean up, take off the Klan robes, get a shower (whew do you stink), maybe McDonalds would consider you for a janitorial assistant. Also, that swastika tattoo is out of date and unattractive – nobody is going to hire you as long as anybody can see that. Those missing teeth? Wow, I don’t know – think you can pass the drug test for food stamps? I noticed there were a couple of spaces opening up under the down-town connector when I drove by this morning – maybe at least three of you can squeeze in there. I know its cold – just huddle together until it warms up. Don’t get excited.

bulls_3y3

March 26th, 2014
1:16 pm

Ralph43 is sticking up for a rude arrogant SICKO. Maybe they are dating???

williebkind

March 26th, 2014
1:18 pm

Is cigarettes a legal product? Dont homosexuals have the right to catch aides? What bad habits do rich people have because you all pick on those poor people on the democratice plantation.

Andre'

March 26th, 2014
1:18 pm

I wonder how many of those who are commenting would consider themselves Christians?

Ralph-43

March 26th, 2014
1:24 pm

@bulls_3y3 – I don’t like bullies. I enjoy sticking up for anybody that can attract a bully. There is nothing more rewarding that getting a response from a dumb bully.

Honestly (INDEP)

March 26th, 2014
1:26 pm

@Andy. You are exactly right. It’s all the people in the system who are there due to self-inflicted circumstances that could have been avoided is where I take issue. Whether it is smoking, drinking one’s self to death, or a lifetime of poor decisions putting many of these people where they are and now the rest of us, who acted responsibly are expected pay for their idiocy, according to them. My position is I didn’t do without and act like an adult to end up paying for their avoidable and predictable circumstances later.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
1:31 pm

Ralph-43 @ 1:24 pm – Do you remember bulls_3y3 AVatar? The backwards Muscle MaN with the tiny enie weenie shorts on? FREAK!

That Boy is from somewhere else….he ain’t from round here. Uh…huh!

bulls_3y3

March 26th, 2014
1:42 pm

Ralph-43 – “I don’t like bullies” And just how do you classify bernie31’s posts. You sound like an abused partner sticking up for your lover even when the police are hauling him away in hand cuffs. Innocent and a good guy right?

What about your name calling: Can’t find a job? clean up, take off the Klan robes, get a shower (whew do you stink), swastika tattoo etc.. HYPOCRITE!!!

Only you remember how I look bernie31: quit stalking me sicko

TBone

March 26th, 2014
1:57 pm

Tobacco has become the whipping boy by many a do-gooder because it’s real easy to beat up on ‘em. Go ahead and make the stuff illegal. Then we’ll find out much like the state of New York that a flourishing Black Market will emerge and the taxman won’t get his.People are going to smoke so get over it.

Bernie31

March 26th, 2014
1:58 pm

TBone @ 1:57 pm – Need a LIGHT?

Thoughtful

March 26th, 2014
2:10 pm

Assuming a pay only correlation to smoking, what would cause that. What can be bought for$5 that lasts all day? Assuming smoking to be a “sinful”/guilty pleasure, what competition does smoking have in that cost bracket. Certainly not fine dining, bowling, roller skating, golf, swimming, most sports, vacations of any sort. Sex could make the list, for sure. Perhaps alcohol. Nintendo or gamenight at a friend’s house who could afford a gamestation might make the list. Cost of gas would be pretty limiting lately, so travel would be limited. What could be had on a limited budget of guilty pleasures…

Limited income would also indicate more time off from work, I would imagine, or a lower paying or part time job. So, likely, more time off. Limited transportation, time off, extreme low budget for any pleasurable binge of anything aside from necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.

Perhaps the list should be broken down into affordable and non-affordable pleasures/vices/or ‘escapes’/equivalent of a vacation. So sex, smoking, drinking, gaming, hanging out/loitering a phone to perhaps ease access to those things? Just a few thoughts.

On My Way

March 26th, 2014
3:12 pm

Why do certain people immediately equate poor with government assistance? Could it be the GOP War on Poor People?

Bumper

March 26th, 2014
3:39 pm

“…labels on cigarettes warning smokers of cancer and other health risks have grown larger…”

While the poorest Americans might smoke the most tobacco I’d guess marijuana smoking, which can’t be all that great for your lungs either, involves a considerably higher income demographic.