New data on smoking rates by age, sex, occupation — Miners smoke the most!

miner smoking

Quelle shock, miners are heavy smokers!

I haven’t done a piece on the annual Centers for Disease Control report on cigarette smoking in the U.S. in quite some time.

This report takes a slightly different tack — breaking down smoking rates by occupation.

Overall, the adult smoking rate in America was 19.6 percent in 2010, down ever so slightly from the 19.8 percent in 2009, but roughly the same as the past 5 years, where it has hovered around 20 percent.

The CDC has been doing these surveys for about 10 years now, and they are very accurate. These entail surveys of tens of thousands of people each year.

The smoking rate among 18-24 year olds is 23.8 percent; among 25-34, it’s 23.5 percent; among 35-44, it’s 21 percent; and among 45-64, it’s 19.8 percent. Among people over 65, it’s only 10.2 percent.

The smoking rate for men is 21.5 percent and for women it’s 17.9 percent.

Here’s the stats I find interesting. Again, these numbers have been pretty consistent over the years. Smoking rate for high school dropouts; 27.1 percent. For high school grads, 21 percent, and for college grads, 9.1 percent.

So lack of education = higher smoking rate.

Another interesting stat. Smoking rate for people living below the poverty line, 27.7 percent; near the poverty line, 26.3 percent; middle income or upper income, 18.1 percent.

It’s not surprising since education level tends to correlate with income. What I find interesting is cigarette taxes have gone up astronomically in the past 10 years. An average pack of cigarettes nationally is about $5. So if you just smoke one pack a day (and that’s not a heavy habit), you’re spending $1,800 a year just on cigarettes. The people who can least afford that expense are the ones buying cigarettes and most hit by cigarette taxes. You can bet a lot of these people don’t have health insurance, as well.

The Midwest has the highest smoking rate, at 21.7 percent, followed by the South at 20.8 percent (bit of a surprise, but Oklahoma and Indiana have high smoking rates and I believe they are included in the Midwest). The Northeast has a smoking rate of 18.7 percent and the healthy and tanned West is lowest at 15.9 percent.

Now, as far as occupation, mining and food services have the highest smoking rates at 30 percent (let’s face it, if you’re breathing coal dust all day, I can understand why miners would feel, “fuck it” about smoking.), followed by construction at 29.7 percent. Everything else is below 25 percent. Interestingly, arts and entertainment has a smoking rate of 14.9 percent. That’s lower than I would expect, because there is a LOT of smoking in the music, film and theatre industries.


Health care and social assistance smoking rate is 15.9 percent, though health care support is 23.7 percent. The lowest smoking rate is in education, at 8.7 percent (not many school campuses allow any smoking anymore.) Interesting, a job classification as “physical,” (I assume this means trainers and people in rehab services) is 9.2 percent.