Study: smoking is more common among rural Americans

A new study by Indiana University researchers found that from 2010 to 2020, a larger proportion of rural Americans smoked cigarettes – and their odds of quitting smoking were lower – compared to those living in urban areas, reports Indiana University.
“Cigarette smoking prevalence is higher in rural than urban U.S. communities, and that disparity has only increased over time,” said Maria Parker, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. “We wanted to see if quit ratios might account for some of rural vs. urban area smoking disparity, beyond a higher smoking prevalence.”
Using deidentified data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2010-20 National Survey on Drug Use, the researchers analysed adults who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime, which they defined as lifetime cigarette smoking. Current smoking was defined as smoking one or more cigarettes in the past month, and former smoking as no cigarettes in the past year.
The researchers found that of the 161,348 lifetime cigarette smokers analysed, 33.5 per cent were former smokers. In 2020, current smoking prevalence was higher in rural than urban areas – 19.2 per cent vs 14.4 per cent – whereas quit ratios were similar in rural and urban areas, at 52.9 per cent and 53.9 per cent, respectively. However, from 2010 to 2020, the odds of quitting smoking were 75 per cent lower in rural areas compared to urban ones. Over time, smoking quit ratios among both rural and urban populations increased.
“Our findings support that a persistent rural/urban disparity exists,” Parker said. “Not only were smoking prevalence estimates higher in rural areas, but quit ratios were lower in rural areas than urban areas. Rural residents may face more barriers to using smoking cessation services than urban residents, or they may be in an earlier stage of motivation to quit.”
The findings were recently published in JAMA Network Open.

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