The local paper ran an article yesterday regarding smoking statistics in upstate NY. The major point of the story is seen in its headline "Region's smoking rate is among highest in state". The basic stats involve a region of upstate NY including 11 counties ranging from Utica, down to Cooperstown, up to Plattsburg, and much of the Adirondacks, for a total population of just about 600,000. The key item is a smoking rate of 26.6%. This is second only to the Southern Tier at 27.1%. The state-wide average is 18% and the national average is 20%. I was a bit surprised by this but it does encompass a fairly wide area so my local experience may not be close to the average. A few things did jump out at me though...
First, the author indicates that one reason for the high percentage may be due to the fact that Utica is a refugee site. For example, we have sizable groups from Bosnia, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), etc. Many of these countries have high smoking rates and thus, they would tend to raise the average. (I should note that for some people in the community, there is a decided anti-refugee mindset, complete with wild misinformation such as each individual receiving $100k from the federal government upon settling here.) A quick look at the numbers shows that their effect is modest at best. In the last 20 years, around 8000 individuals have resettled here. Even if every single one of them smoked, that would raise the value only 1.3%. Removing that much wouldn't put us at the national level, let alone the state average.
The second item is a factoid that's glossed over, namely, that the area has the state's largest percentage of ex-smokers, at 31.4%. That's not something to ignore. You can only determine if anti-smoking measures are successful by looking at both the starting and finishing values. No figures were given for ex-smokers in other regions, but that would seem to indicate that said measures have been at least somewhat successful. Of course, a big headline announcing that you have the greatest percentage of former smokers in the state is not nearly so enticing to an editor.
Well, I don't know about where in NYS you are, but here in the Adirondack Park we have construction and an IP mill, 80% of the county budget going to Medicaid, a huge number of the edentulous, and if you are among the social elite it means you're a teacher married to a prison guard.
I live in Utica, pretty much the geographic center of the state, and just off the southwestern boundary of the Adirondack Park. I see smokers, but 1 in 4 seems a bit high to me. Among friends, family and co-workers it's way below that rate. Of course, I work at a college and most of my friends either work in education or technology and that probably skews the result.
I am of the opinion that anyone born in the USA after 1960 who smokes is an idiot. I use the 1960 breakpoint for those who started smoking and became hooked before the huge anti-smoking push began rolling. They're not idiots, they're just junkies who may not have known better.
It's around this season that the whole smoker-junkie thing hits home. There's nothing like going into a building and seeing a couple of people hanging out near the door getting in a few puffs when it's 35 degrees F and raining. Oh yeah, "pure tobacco pleasure".
I was born in 1953 and even then we knew smoking was bad for you. I was on a swimming team as a kid and if we were caught smoking we were off the team - smoking "cut your wind." This was pre-surgeon general's report. They were also called, even then, "coffin nails." Anyone, period, who was born whenever who didn't know smoking was bad should die and help filter the gene pool.
That said, I was a heavy smoker for years and quit 12 years ago. I still, at least once a day, get a horrible craving for a smoke.
You won't meet smokers in your circle.