Seeing as the group’s topic is centered around the reason why so many people in Chicago smoke, this study is extremely useful and insightful information of six diverse Chicago communities and their smoking habits. The Survey Design Committee (SDC) that performed the research (using the Sinai Health System’s Improving Community Health Survey) interviewed adult smokers and gathered demographic information in Norwood Park, Humboldt Park, West Town, South Lawndale, North Lawndale, and Roseland.
As for the highs and lows of cigarette smoking, the committee concluded that men, residents in poorer households and households without telephones (excluding cell phones), and residents with less education were most likely to smoke. As for the communities, North Lawndale (the poorest of the 6 community areas) had the highest smoker prevalence at 39% while Norwood (the wealthiest of the 6) had the lowest prevalence at 18%. Although I would like to believe that this information is surprising, I was not shocked. It seems that every article or study I have read has concluded similarly. It is usually the poorest areas that have the highest smoking rates, but why?
Smoking is expensive, especially in Chicago. Depending on the brand choice, one pack of cigarettes costs around $12-let me calculate that as a college student…that could buy a couple of meals at Subway! So why is smoking so prevalent in areas experiencing poverty? Addiction is a common point. The committee estimated an average of at what age their interviewees began to smoke and concluded that the majority smoked their first cigarette from age 15-17. If they have been smoking for a long time, they could feel it is impossible to quit. Another question is whether or not stress has anything to do with it. Smoking is a form of relaxation for some people, so although they are burning away their money, the trade-off could be a few minutes of stress-free time. People in poor areas, therefore, could use a cigarette as an escape route from stressful situations.These are just my assumptions, however, and they are not supported or talked about within the study.
While smoking prevalence in Chicago seems radical in the eyes of myself and my group members, it is not as bad as what it used to be. Before conducting research on the health costs of smoking, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Once reliable data was collected in the mid 1960’s, the smoking rates declined to 22-25%. Despite the known health problems and costs associated with smoking, about 45.8 million US adults continue to smoke.