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Smoking Rate Article


Published on November 28, 2014

Education. “This data shows that the whole premise that there is this hard-core group, where no matter what you do you can’t get them to quit, is just not true.” Doctors and researchers who study smoking cessation point to a number of factors that may play a role in the latest drop. “Now there is a strong evidence base about what works and what doesn’t work,” Dr. Glantz says. School education programs, for example, don’t appear to be very effective, most likely because schools are difficult places to change social norms and it is hard to do the programs well given all the other demands in the school day, he says. But educating people about the tobacco industry’s marketing efforts can have a big impact. “We now have empirical evidence that people who don’t like the tobacco industry are about five times as likely to quit, and a third to a fifth as likely to start,” he says. Richard Hurt, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he directs the Nicotine Dependence Center, says that two public policies have had significant effects on smoking cessation: increasing the price of cigarettes and creating smoke-free workplaces. “They reduce the number of cigarettes that people are smoking, usually between three and five cigarettes less per day for heavier smokers,” he says, and “increase the chances of a smoker stopping smoking.” Since children can’t as easily afford cigarettes and don’t see smoking as the norm when it is banned in so many public places, these policies also “decrease the chances of your child or grandchild ever starting to smoke,” he says. “People smoking less is a really important part of the story,” says Dr. Glantz. “The overall pattern we’re seeing, both nationally and in places like California,” where the prevalence of smoking is now down to 12 percent, “is as smoking goes down, the remaining smokers are becoming lighter smokers, intermittent smokers, or not even smoking every day. And as you smoke less and less, it becomes easier to quit.” He also notes the importance of smoking bans. “When you create smoke-free workplaces, bars, casinos and restaurants, it sends a strong message that smoking is out,” he says. “It also creates environments that make it easier for people to quit smoking.” Dr. Mary O’Sullivan, director of the Margarita Camche Smoking Cessation Program at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan, said: “In New York, we’ve gotten it down to 14 percent, and one of the big reasons is price. Here it’s $12 a pack. Even our schizophrenia patients, who are the most addicted, who used to smoke two and three