While the number of Americans who smoke has gone down in recent years, some smokers still struggle to quit, new research finds. Lower-income and less-educated people are among the groups that still have higher rates of cigarette smoking. Also more likely to smoke are enlisted military members, those with mental illness, adults of Native American descent, and people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community.
The overall smoking rate in the U.S. has decreased from 42 percent to 1965 to 15 percent in 2015. But that still means that about 40 million Americans are smokers. According to the research, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, only about 6.5 percent of college-educated people smoke, compared to about 23 percent among those with a high school education or less.
Some of the disparity may be due to prevention efforts that haven’t targeted communities with high smoking rates. Researchers at the American Cancer Society say the studies’ findings highlight the need to focus intervention efforts toward people in these communities.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in the U.S., causing about 480,000 premature deaths each year.