Tobacco Use in the United States: Trends in Consumption Video

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  • 0:01 Deceiving Appearances
  • 0:23 Tobacco & Nicotine Use
  • 1:36 Smoking & Education
  • 2:15 Other Influences
  • 3:09 Finance & Health
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will discuss important statistics related to smoking, including how age, ethnicity, education, and geographic location influence tobacco use, as well as the financial and health-related implications of smoking.

Deceiving Appearances

Hollywood movies are really great, especially in gritty thrillers or dramas, at blowing things out of proportion. In these types of movies, it seems like a big chunk of the characters are smoking, from the good cop to the seedy mobster. But the reality of smoking is thankfully very different as you're about to discover by learning the actual trends of tobacco use in the United States.

Tobacco and Nicotine Use in America

Actually, only about 18% of American adults smoke tobacco. Tobacco is a plant whose nicotine rich leaves are used for smoking, chewing, or for snuff. Nicotine is a poisonous substance responsible for many of the addictive qualities of tobacco. But the actual percentage of a given population that smokes varies highly from state to state in this country.

For instance, in Utah, only about 10% of the population smokes. This is because most of this state's residents are Mormons whose strict religious beliefs prohibit believers from ingesting such a toxin. The residents of Utah are very different from those in the tobacco-producing state of Kentucky. In this state, over 28% of adults are smokers.

Of course, I should define what a smoker really is with respect to these state statistics. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) defines smokers as persons who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime and who, at the time of the interview, reported smoking every day or some days.

Smoking and Education

Unfortunately, the amount of college students that smoke is higher, in some respects. About 30% of college students have smoked within the last month. And, perhaps not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between smoking and drinking - students who drink are more likely to smoke as well.

It's also interesting to note that the higher the level of education a person has completed, the highest being a doctorate degree, the lower the likelihood that a person smokes. For example, a person who did not graduate high school is about five times more likely to smoke than a person with an advanced degree.

Other Influences on Tobacco Use

But educational status as a result or lack of a college education is by no means the sole measurement of tobacco use in the U.S. that we have to go on. Of people aged 18-64, about 17%-22% smoke. This is in stark contrast to people over the age of 64, of whom less than 10% smoke.

Ethnic background also seems to influence the prevalence of smokers in a group of people. Asians are the least likely to smoke (about 10%), whereas Native Americans are much more likely to do so (about 22%). And in general, men (about 21%) smoke more often than women (about 16%), and the unemployed are more likely to smoke than those with a full or part-time job.

Implications on Finance and Health

The numbers and statistics I have shared with you shouldn't be limited to people. The financial cost of smoking is truly astounding. The tobacco industry spends almost $23 million dollars per day to try and get you to smoke through advertisements. The number is paltry in comparison to the almost $300 billion per year the United States spends on avoidable medical costs and lost productivity as a result of smoking. If you're wondering what lost productivity really means, I'll explain.

If you are perfectly healthy and happy you could work up to 100% of your potential. Smoking harms your health. This harm may result in you being able to work to only, say, 70% of your true potential. Since you can't work as hard, this impacts society as a whole because you're contributing less than you otherwise could have had you not smoked.

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