Overall Percentage of State Residents Who Smoke Decreases
The percentage of adults in the state who smoke dropped to a "record low" of 16.2% in 2003, but smoking rates remained high among low-income residents with less education, a statewide survey found, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to the survey, the adult smoking rate has decreased by 12% since 1998, when 18.4% of California adults smoked. State officials attribute the decrease to the state's antismoking media campaign, indoor smoking restrictions and smoking-cessation programs. "The state's comprehensive approach to tobacco education and cessation activities has proven highly effective. ... A more informed public has made the healthy choice of not smoking," Kimberly Belshe, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, said in a statement.
The survey also found that smoking rates among people in the "lower socioeconomic groups remain high" at 22.1%, compared with 7.7% among residents in higher socioeconomic groups, the Bee reports. State Public Health Officer Dr. Richard Jackson said, "What this data is showing is that poor people, who can afford tobacco the least, are carrying the biggest brunt of tobacco and the diseases it causes." Dian Kiser, co-director of Sacramento-based anti-smoking program RESPECT, said, "People are spending more money on cigarettes, and money spent on tobacco cannot be spent on basic human needs such as food and shelter and health care" (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 5/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.