Everyone’s favorite CDC publication, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, passes along some great news today: cigarette smoking is down. Among Americans 18 and older, only 17.8 percent now smoke cigarettes, down from 20.9 percent in 2005. What’s more, the proportion of daily smokers declined from 16.9 percent to 13.7 percent, and among daily smokers the number of cigarettes smoked also declined. By region, the highest level of smoking is found in the Midwest, followed by the South, the Northeast, and the West. Poor people smoke more than non-poor, and generally speaking, those with less education smoke more than those with more education.
In case you’re unpersuaded by all this, I’ve appended a trivial chart on the right showing the overall prevalence of smoking. It’s down. Are you persuaded now?
In any case, you’re probably not surprised by this news. So here’s something a little more interesting: it turns out the prevalence of smoking is considerably higher among the gay population than the straight population (26 percent vs. 17 percent). Is this common knowledge? Maybe, but I didn’t know it, and I sure wouldn’t have guessed it. Of course, all the gay people I know are well-educated West Coast folks, who probably have a very low rate of smoking regardless of sexual orientation. So I suppose I’m just too cloistered to have any clue about this.