Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poverty and Smoking

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The MSN homepage always has an array of interesting news stories that change throughout the day.   One thing the site often does is to come up with “top ten” lists, usually based on available public records of one sort or another.  Yesterday the MSN page featured a list of the ten poorest states in the union – a list based primarily on per capita incomes and unemployment rates.  The states that made that list, from tenth to absolute poorest, were:  Arizona, Alabama, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, West Virginia, South Carolina, Idaho, and Mississippi.

(The two of those that I found surprising were Arkansas with the uber-rich Waltons, and yuppie-infested New Mexico, but obviously those pockets of dollars aren’t yet enough to off-set the empty pockets.)

Today’s list was the ten states most addicted to tobacco.  They were listed alphabetically:  Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  Six of those ten overlap onto the list of poorest states.  Of the poorest states that didn’t make the tobacco addiction list, two – Utah and Idaho – have substantial Mormon populations who eschew smoking.

So while a strong correlation does not prove cause and effect, it would seem clear that there is some connection between poverty and smoking.  Perhaps it is a lack of education due to one’s economic circumstances, deficits in critical thinking ability as a result of limited educational opportunities, stress and anxiety due to economic hardship, or general bull-headedness that might result from having a blue collar wrapped around a red neck.

One connection would appear to be certain, however:  It will be hard for a person to move out of poverty while paying four to five dollars for a pack of smokes!  I quit when they hit fifty cents a pack – and never looked back!

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