New report: Smoking is more of a habit for poor, working class

PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT)- While the national smoking rates have steadily declined, several Region 8 counties continue to have high smoking rates.

According to a new federal analysis released Monday, smoking is now harder to shake for the poor and working class.

"They may not have time to devote to quitting smoking, they're busy with their daily lives and with working," said Tonny Dement, director of clinical services at Piggott Community Hospital.

Dement said those groups of people may not have the time or resources to kick the habit.

"You have to have a plan to quit smoking and you have to have days set aside to quit and time to devote to that," she said. "They may not have access to the information that they need to quit smoking."

A new analysis of federal smoking data shows the gap in increasing among the rich and poor. Since 1997, the smoking rates for adult has fallen 27 percent , but among the poor it has declined only 15 percent. Dement said the decline is due to more people knowing the risks of smoking.

"I think people know that they need to quit smoking," she said. "I think their providers, their nurses or doctors are having more conversations with them about quitting smoking."

Dement said they offer their patients information on ways to quit smoking and the resources available.

"We talk to them about plans that are available, medications that are available to help quit smoking so we have many conversations with our patients and their families about smoking cessation," she said.

The data revealed three Region 8 counties who had very little change.

Clay County –1996 (33% of adults smoked) 2012 (30% of adults smoked)

Poinsett County—1996 (34% of adults smoked) 2012 (32% of adults smoke)

Jackson County –1996 (31% of adults smoke) 2012 (32% of adults smoke)

But in order to bridge the gap between the poor and rich counties, Dement said more help has to be made available.

"I think there may have to be some special programs, also some special clinic based programs where they come in and meet on a weekly basis," she said.

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