Tobacco use higher in rural areas; several factors include tobacco companies’ targeting of rural youth, Lung Assn. says

Tobacco use is higher among rural communities than in suburban and urban areas, and smokeless tobacco use is twice as common. According to the American Lung Association, rural youth are more likely to use tobacco and to start earlier than urban youth, perpetuating the cycle of tobacco addiction, death and disease.

In its latest health disparity report, “Cutting Tobacco’s Rural Roots: Tobacco Use in Rural Communities,” ALA says the increased tobacco use is associated with lower education levels and lower incomes, which are both common in rural areas where there may be fewer opportunities for educational and economic advancement.

The exposure to secondhand smoke is also likely to be higher, since rural communities are less likely to have smoke-free air laws in place, and that probably makes residents less likely to ask individuals not to smoke in their homes or other indoor places they control.

The report also pointed out that the tobacco industry “spends millions of dollars targeting rural youth,” and “these young people are less likely to be exposed to tobacco counter-marketing campaigns. Rural tobacco users are also less likely to have access to tobacco-cessation programs and services to get the help they need to quit. Promotion of the availability of state counseling services by phone and online resources also lags in rural communities.”

To read the full report, go here.

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