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Percentage of smokers drops; still high among some groups

Jun 30, 2017

Download the report here and the data tables here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 18% of adults in the United States were smokers in 2015.1 This percentage is higher than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 12%.

The percentage of adults in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky who are current smokers continues to be higher than the nation. According to the 2017 Community Health Status Survey (CHSS), 23% of adults in our region are current smokers. This percentage has been steadily declining since the question was first asked in 1999.

Smoking more common among lower-income, less-educated adults 

Nearly half of adults earning 100% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)2 reported that they are current smokers (46%). This compares with 3 in 10 adults (33%) earning between 100% and 200% FPG, and fewer than 2 in 10 adults (15%) earning more than 200% FPG. The percentage of adults earning more than 200% FPG who smoke has declined by half over the past 15 years. However, the percentage of adults in other income groups who are smokers has remained about the same. 

Smoking also varies by education. Adults with less education are more likely to be smokers. About 1 in 10 college graduates reported being current smokers (10%). That compares with 2 in 10 adults with some college (21%), 3 in 10 high school graduates (31%) and 4 in 10 adults with less than a high school diploma (40%). The percentage of adults with less than a high school education who smoke declined since 2013 (54%). All other groups remained about the same.

Adults in Kentucky, rural counties, Cincinnati more likely to be smokers

The percentage of adults reporting that they are current smokers varies by region. At least 3 in 10 adults in rural Kentucky counties3 (34%) and urban Kentucky counties4 (30%) reported being current smokers. Almost 3 in 10 adults in rural Ohio counties5 (27%), Indiana counties6 (26%) and the city of Cincinnati (26%) reported being current smokers.

Fewer than 2 in 10 adults in Hamilton County suburbs (19%) and suburban Ohio counties7 (17%) reported being current smokers.

2 in 10 adults allow people to smoke in home

CHSS also asked, “Do you allow people to smoke in your home?” Secondhand smoke can cause significant health problems for nonsmokers, including ear infections, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer.

Nearly 2 in 10 adults in our region reported that they allow people to smoke in their home (18%). Current smokers (48%) are much more likely to allow this than previous smokers (12%) and adults who have never smoked (9%).

As with the smoking question, responses to this question vary by income. Four in 10 adults earning less than 100% FPG (40%) reported allowing people to smoke in their home. That compares with more than 2 in 10 adults earning between 100% and 200% FPG (25%) and 1 in 10 adults earning more than 200% FPG (10%).


1 National data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System are available from https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence/index.html.

2 In 2015, 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines was $24,250 for a family of four; 200% FPG was $48,500.

3 Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen and Pendleton counties.

4 Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties.

5 Adams, Brown, Clermont and Highland counties.

6 Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley, and Switzerland counties.

7 Butler, Clinton and Warren counties.

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