Op-ed pick: Why the poor smoke cigarettes

The federal government released new numbers about America’s cigarette habit earlier this week. Not surprisingly, we still smoke a lot and it’s still a leading cause of disease and death in the United States. But when the New York Times dug into the data, a new pattern emerged:

[The study] 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.

This growing gap in smoking rates between rich and poor is helping drive inequality in health outcomes, experts say, with, for example, white women on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder now living shorter lives.

So why are the poorest Americans smoking more than the middle- and upper-class?

Megan Sandel and Renée Boynton-Jarrett, doctors at the Boston University School of Medicine, wrote for CNN that advertising that targets the poor is partly to blame. But so is the chronic stress of poverty.

…Economic hardships, such as hunger, unstable housing and problems keeping the heat on are stressful and unhealthy for children. And childhood adversity is linked to unhealthy behaviors later, particularly to smoking. A Duke University study found that “worries about paying bills or needing to sell possessions for cash independently erode a child’s self-control, regardless of strong parenting.” That lack of self-control often leads to smoking.

Read their entire column here.

  • Jim G

    Yes, once the bugs are smashed out them.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes, I’ve been waiting for this since I was a kid. It’s time the robots took over.

  • KTN

    Only as it sits in the showroom.

    Self-driving cars will have algorithms to prevent crashing, and hurting the occupants, sort of a prime directive. What happens when the car has to make a choice between driving off a cliff to avoid smashing into a school bus filled with kids, killing me, the driver, or does it preserve me, and kill the kids. The car will make a faster decision than I would be able to make, but that does not make it the correct decision.
    Also, I like driving too much to relinquish that task to a computer.

    • PJM

      Aren’t you already taking that risk every time you get behind the wheel? What would you do that in that situation? My only point is that the probability of you dying while you are in control is dramatically higher than if a computer was driving.

      However, I love driving and would be hesitant to give it up as well.

  • Gary F

    1. I couldn’t afford one. Something for the rich people.
    2. I’d wait until someone else suffers the learning curve both legally and insurance wise. (It’s not my fault and who gets sued)
    3. I’m afraid of what the unintentional and un-thought of consequences are from this.

  • PaulJ

    Wouldn’t have to; isn’t myself driving.

  • Pearly

    To the BAR!

  • Scott44

    No, I love the feeling of driving, the control. I could hardly wait till I turned 16 and could drive. So I am not about to give it up now.

  • Sue de Nim

    Absolutely! I would love to have my commute time available for reading a good book. And imagine taking a long road trip, asleep, between bed time and breakfast. There are people I would visit a lot more often if I could do that.

  • maria

    If I had the money, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d rather read than drive. Then you always have a sobercab on hand. Hell, you probably could have it drop you at the door at Target during a snowstorm, and call it back when you’re done shopping 🙂 I’d name my car Scotty. DRIVE ME AROUND, SCOTTY!

  • JQP

    Yes. Once the “person driven” cars were outlawed. Those Philistines would still be out there creating mayhem.

  • Yanotha Twangai

    The first large-scale use of driverless cars will most likely be by taxi companies, not private owners. Once people become convinced that automated taxicabs are safe and reliable, the market for personal driverless vehicles will take off.

    • Pearly

      Taxi or more likely delivery service. Either way these jobs are going and they aren’t coming back

  • david

    Heck yeah! Let the car deal with all the road-ragey d-bags out there. I’m watching Netflix.

  • kevins

    Will they have the finesse to get around combines and harvest trucks? Can they be programmed to deal with the crazed deer that may or may not stay on the side of the road? If so, I’m in, but I want a couple of my neighbors to try them out first.

  • Eric

    I like driving most of the time, so I would hesitate to give that up, but there are certainly times when a self-driving car would be helpful (mostly times when I should not be driving anyway, e.g when I am too tired to be driving). In those cases, a self driving car would be nice, but a hotel room is probably a cheaper solution.

    Question about the question: if it is really a self-driving car, would it actually be possible for me to get behind the wheel?

  • stpldavis

    To some extent we’re already doing that as most mid-sized cars and SUVs offer cruise control packages. This isn’t exactly a brand new suggestion or revolutionary technological change. The problem I have with this is we have a larger need to produce cars that don’t use gas, but car manufacturers continue to apply their techies to faster cars that offer more luxury functions. If they can create a car that drives on its own, I would think a car that uses different fuels would be a drop in the bucket.

  • Joe

    Remember folks, the cigarette excise tax is a poor tax!

    • MrNoyce

      Why does Mark Dayton hate poor people? He sure never held back the taxes when it came to benefit the billionaire fraudster Ziggy.

      • Joe

        It’s easy to hate something you know nothing about

  • davehoug

    Chicken and egg. Does poverty cause stress >> poor health or does poor health >> stress >> poverty or both / and. Surely decisions lead to poverty and poverty leads to poor examples of good decisions. Smoke? college? break laws? all are influenced by what folks see growing up and so show their own children. No answer, just an observation that the cure of the ROOT cause will either lead to more $ for the poor or more UN-acceptance of poor decisions.

  • Gary F

    Keep smoking folks! The Dems are addicted to spending and need that smoking to pay for their fix!

    Keep buying lotto tickets too!

    • Joe

      Those Dems, what are they going to Dem next?