Smoking rates correlate with low income


Interesting. Just from a glance at the map, I would guess a strong positive correlation between smoking and Native American reservations, and a strong negative correlation with areas with a high population of Mormons.

Uh, duh?


Maps are so fun. Look at this one, look at a map of % of pop with bachelors, then look at GOP-DEM map. It all fall into place.

Depends on which stereotypes you favor.


I would make the cigar itself from a dollar bill - you would literally burn money when you smoke!

I have read that smoking relieves hunger, so the correlation makes sense from that perspective.


… so to solve smoking as a public health issue, we have to step up in policing the poor. Right?

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I was amazed to flip through an american magazine (popular mechanics i think) at my local librarey her in oz and see ads for tobacco and cigarettes. Surely that would make the USA the last western nation that still allows that.

No surprises that smoking rates mirror wealth and other social determinents of health on maps.

That and being poor is depressing and stressful.

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There is a possible contributing factor that I had never thought of when someone pointed it out. It doesn’t have to be about the direct effects of smoking. In many stressful jobs, especially crappy ones, smoking serves as an important source of generally acknowledged breaks. Many supervisors who would be less than thrilled if you just walked away for five minutes to calm down and collect yourself accept a certain number of smoking breaks as a fact of life.


When I see a map like this with an abrupt change at a state line, I have to wonder if it’s due to a difference in data collection and reporting in that state rather than large behavioral differences. Sure, Kentucky might have dramatically lower cigarette taxes or lax enforcement of anti-teen smoking laws but in those cases the border areas in adjacent states should experience some degree of spillover.

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We have The First Amendment which even protects many forms of commercial speech. The lack of any governmental control over speech including racists, sexist, homophobic speech and the fact that money = speech is often perplexing to foreigners. For example, this can lead to a level of discourse that is quite rude and crude, but rather than police speech the general legal theory and cultural norm is to allow the market place of ideas to regulate speech. So people who are offensive are ignored, or at least people attempt to ignore them. An excellent example of this is the Westboro Church protests. While I and many think the Church is a hateful organization, I fully support its right to be idiotic and say awful things, for I believe that if we do not protect unpopular speech, we aren’t protecting anyones speech.

Thus cigarettes may be unpopular and may even be destructive, but the manufacturers have a right to promote their product.

I wonder if the correlation between poverty and lower IQs ads to the picture or is irrlevant?

That’s fine for people, but what has it to do with corporations?

This. I’ve had grief for taking allotted breaks when smokers (including the supervisors) regularly get extra breaks. Makes having given up rather annoying sometimes.

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I’m not sure there is any correlation between poverty and IQ. Supposedly my IQ is in the top 2%; I am poor, and I have smoked for 26 years, since age 16. I also drink 1 gallon of liquor per week. However, there IS a direct correlation between these actions and poverty. Despite my IQ, two degrees, and creative abilities, I’ve been trapped in low pay, dead end jobs all of my life. And I know tons of others just like me. Thus, I have absolutely no survival instinct. My retirement plan is made by Colt, and I know after 30 some years of work that some of us are simply fated to never be successful. I am sure this is how many of these people feel, no matter their IQ. So, I go to work and go home to black out drinking bourbon while playing video games to escape. Why not? Why not smoke? If you had to go to work at Wal-Mart (not my employer) every day, wouldn’t you consider putting a gun in your mouth every time you woke up? Cigs take a bit longer, but why not?

Although this correlation [does exist at the individual level][1], you cannot infer it from the Flowing Data map, due to the [Ecological Fallacy][2].

What the map shows is that counties with higher poverty rates have higher rates of smoking. You cannot then infer that individuals who are poor are generally more likely to smoke. Here’s why: suppose that most poor people live in a small number of counties (concentrated urban areas), and have low rates of smoking. Then overall, it is possible that poverty and smoking are inversely related at the individual level, even as they are positively correlated across (unweighted percentage rates) counties.

Poor states are more likely to vote Republican. But poor people are more likely to vote Democratic. These are mutually consistent, because the position and slope of the income-political affiliation line varies by state – see Andrew Gelman’s work on this.

If you are already used to being poor, surviving on Social Security and food stamps shouldn’t be that much of a change.

I had my time on the help, with almost two years of unemployment, but I don’t use it anymore. I make just enough to live pay check to pay check, like most of us. I am not a leech. I was just cursed with a birth defect called AAI (Above Average Intelligence). It is still a disability whether you are at the top 2% or the bottom 2%. You aren’t going to date; you aren’t going to lead; you are a reject.