As discussed in a recent article in The Washington Post, research shows that smoking has remained a comparatively large issue among the lower socioeconomic class communities of America. Though the percentage of Americans who smoke (15%) is at a historical low, it has become more and more apparent that the overall downward trend in smoking rates is occurring primarily among the middle- and upper-class American populations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the smoking rate remains at more than 40 percent among those with a high-school equivalency diploma (a strong predictor of socioeconomic status). Furthermore, rural residents (also more statistically likely to be lower income) are being diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18 to 20 percent above those who live in urban areas.
This socioeconomic gap seems to have not gone unnoticed by some major tobacco companies, who have started focusing their marketing on poorer, more marginalized communities in an effort to maintain a consumer base. And while many pilot programs have sprung up across the country in an effort to combat this ongoing problem, many researchers fear that without the help of a more targeted, over-arching cigarette cessation program, these gaps will only continue to widen.