Smoking rate hits record low

December 21, 2010

By Daniel Weintraub

California’s smoking rate dropped to a record low of 13.1 percent in 2009, according to new numbers from the state Department of Public Health. That’s a 42 percent decline since the state’s Tobacco Control Program was established in 1990.

Smoking continues to be correlated with education and income, according to the latest numbers.

Only about 5 percent of college graduates smoke, compared to rates between 12 percent and 15 percent for people with less than a college education.

People with incomes of 150,000 or more smoke at a rate of less than 8 percent. For people with incomes of less than 20,000, the rate is nearly 20 percent.

Men smoke more than women to do. About 16 percent of men and 11 percent of women in California smoke.

Other highlight from the report:

–Californians in rural areas generally smoke more than people in urban areas.

–Californians who smoke are smoking fewer cigarettes than in the past, and far fewer than the national average.

–Smoking rates have declined for all major ethnic groups.

Health and Welfare Secretary Kimberly Belshé said in a statement that she was proud of the “tremendous progress” California has made in the fight against smoking over the past 20 years. But she noted that nearly 4 million Californians still smoke and tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the state.

“Our job is not yet complete,” she said.

The Department of Public Health also released its latest version of anti-tobacco advertising paid for by a tobacco tax passed by voters in 1988.

Download the full report by clicking here.

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