Monday, July 28, 2008

Smoking is a Class Issue

A woman called me about signing up for my smoking cessation class which is $100. For those that this would be a financial burden, I let them make payments. As this woman was sucking on her cigarette, she said, "You don't understand, I can't afford to buy milk for my children!" I thought at the time that if she hadn't bought that pack of cigarettes, she could have paid for a carton of milk.
Someone told me that with these hard economic times that smokers would quit to save money. It is the opposite, in times of stress, smokers will smoke more to relieve their stress. In one study sponsored by a tobacco company, it showed that when a smoker had to choose between cigarettes and food, they would choose the cigarettes. that certainly was true for the woman that called me.

There is an interesting commentary from England about smoking being a class issue. That when smoking was first popular that it was the rich that embraced it. As the health issues arose, the rich stopped smoking and the poor continued. There is a lot of truth to this. In the United States, most smokers are from a lower socio-economic status and 50% of current smokers in California are either a substance/alcohol abuser or have a mental illness. There is a popular myth that women find it harder to quit than men but when the research is controlled for all factors, what was discovered is that women are more likely to live at or below poverty level than men and it was these women who were more likely to smoke. So it appears that smoking is a class issue not only in the United Kingdom but in the United States as well. Unfortunately, it is the poor that also lack access to the help they desperately need to quit.

There was a Master Tobacco Settlement that was supposed to penalized the tobacco companies for lying all these years about the effects of tobacco. Each state receives money from the Master Settlement yet there are no restrictions on how this money is to be spent, often it goes into the general budget. Doesn't it make sense that at least some of this money is spent to help smokers kick nicotine out of their lives for good?

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