Fewer Smokers… With a Few Exceptions

Smoking rates have dropped except in people with a history of major depressive disorder

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Americans are smoking less than they did in the early 1990s, thanks to a number of efforts. But there are still quite a few smokers among certain groups in the US.

A recent study looked at rates of smoking among different groups of people in the United States between the early 1990s and the mid 2000s.

The results of the study showed an overall reduction in smoking rates. However, smaller reductions were found among groups with a history of alcohol or drug use disorders, major depressive disorder and people of Native American descent.

The authors recommended that healthcare professionals continue to promote smoking cessation to patients in those high-risk groups.

"Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW."

Roberto Secades-Villa, PhD, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Oviedo in Spain, worked with psychiatrists from Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute to look at the changes in tobacco use in people with psychiatric disorders.

For the study, researchers looked at data from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey done in 1991 to 1992 and again in 2004 to 2005. The earlier survey included 41,612 people, while the later survey included 34,653 people.

Results from the 1991-1992 survey showed that 26 percent of people reported daily tobacco use in the past year compared to 19 percent of people from the 2004-2005 survey.

In both surveys, the following groups were more likely to be smokers:

  • Males
  • Younger people
  • Widowed, divorced and separated people
  • People with a history of drug or alcohol use disorder
  • People with a family history of an alcohol use disorder
  • People with an income less than $19,999 per year
  • People of Native American, white and black descent
  • People with a history of major depression

In both surveys, the following people were less likely to be smokers:

  • Females
  • Older people
  • Married people or people living with a partner
  • People of Asian or Hispanic descent
  • People living in the US, but born elsewhere
  • People with some college education
  • People with an income greater than $35,000 per year

From the 1991-1992 survey to the 2004-2005 survey, a decline in tobacco use was seen across all groups with the exception of Native Americans who had been treated for a drug use disorder within the past year.

The authors believed the decreased rates of smoking were the result of a combination of smoke-free laws in public places, increased tobacco taxes and anti-tobacco media campaigns.

The authors recommended that healthcare professionals continue to encourage smoking cessation among patients, especially among those with a history of drug or alcohol use disorders or major depressive disorder. Furthermore, anti-tobacco campaigns may need to direct attention towards Native American populations.

This study was published in February in Psychiatric Services.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Spanish Ministry of Education provided funding for this project.

While co-author Dr. Olfson has received grant funding from pharmaceutical companies in the past, the authors declared no conflicts of interest in this study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 26, 2013
Last Updated:
February 28, 2013