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Smoking Decreases as Income Increases

Among Americans, Smoking Decreases as Income Increases

Gradual pattern is consistent across eight earnings brackets

by Rob Goszkowski

Washington, D.C. — The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is helping to crystallize the relationship between income and smoking in the United States.

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While researchers for Gallup and the Centers for Disease Control have previously documented higher smoking rates among lower-income Americans, the current results based on interviews with more than 75,000 individuals across the United States allow for a closer examination of the relationship between household income and smoking behavior.

Nationwide, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reveals that 21% of Americans say they smoke. As the accompanying graph illustrates, the likelihood of smoking generally increases as annual incomes decrease. One exception to this pattern occurs among those making less than $6,000 per year, an income bracket often skewed because many in that bracket are students. Among those making $6,000 to $11,999 per year, 34% say they smoke, while only 13% in the top two income brackets (those with incomes of at least $90,000 per year) say the same — a 21 percentage-point gap.

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