Cigarette smoking more prevalent, harder to quit among rural vs. urban Americans

Sept. 13, 2022
New study from Indiana University.

A new study by Indiana University researchers found that from 2010 to 2020, a larger proportion of rural Americans smoked cigarettes -- and their odds of quitting smoking were lower -- compared to those living in urban areas.

Their findings were recently published in JAMA Network Open.

Using deidentified data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2010-20 National Survey on Drug Use, the researchers analyzed adults who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime, which they defined as lifetime cigarette smoking. Current smoking was defined as smoking one or more cigarettes in the past month, and former smoking as no cigarettes in the past year. Overall and annual quit ratios were estimated as proportions of former smokers among lifetime smokers.

The researchers found that of the 161,348 lifetime cigarette smokers analyzed, 33.5% were former smokers.

In 2020, current smoking prevalence was higher in rural than urban areas -- 19.2% vs 14.4% -- whereas quit ratios were similar in rural and urban areas, at 52.9% and 53.9%, respectively.

However, from 2010 to 2020, the odds of quitting smoking were 75% lower in rural areas compared to urban ones.

Over time, smoking quit ratios among both rural and urban populations increased.

Indiana University release