outsized health costs for businesses

Health Costs for Business: CDC Indicates Smoking Rates Fall, but Concerns Remain

One of the biggest drivers of chronic disease — and of outsized health costs for businesses — is smoking. That’s why most well-run workplace workplace wellness programs make anti-smoking campaigns a part of member outreach and engagement.

Now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that smoking statistics are improving for certain populations.

Time reports that “Smoking rates among U.S. adults have hit an all-time low, new estimates say.”

It continues: “Approximately 14% of American adults said they were smokers last year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). While that’s still a significant number, encompassing more than 30 million Americans, it’s down from 16% the year before and roughly 20% in 2006. It’s also a significant drop-off from rates recorded around 50 years ago, which topped 40% by some estimates.”

The bad news, however, and the information that location-specific employers may want to focus on: Smoking rates remain higher outside of metropolitan regions.

Writes MedPage Today: “The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among adults not living in metropolitan areas was nearly double that of adults living in urban areas with populations of 1 million of more (21.5% versus 11.4%). People not living in metropolitan areas were more likely than those living in both large and small urban areas to be current cigarette smokers.”

This type of information is useful for workplace wellness programs that may consider engagement efforts customized to location.

Indeed, MedPage offers additional information on the breakdown of smoking rates that also can be useful for workplace wellness leaders:

“Men were more likely than women to be current smokers in 2017 (15.8% versus 12.2%), and they were also more likely to report being former smokers (25.7% versus 19.5%). Women were more likely than men to report never having smoked cigarettes (68.3% versus 58.5%).”

Said Paul Billings, American Lung Association senior vice president: “While the progress is welcome … much more needs to be done to ensure all Americans benefit from policies designed to address tobacco use.”