Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Disparities in current cigarette smoking among US adults, 2002–2016
  1. Israel T Agaku1,
  2. Satomi Odani1,
  3. Kolawole S Okuyemi2,
  4. Brian Armour1
  1. 1 Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2 Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
  1. Correspondence to Satomi Odani, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4018, USA; lpu7{at}


Background To assess disparities in current (past 30 days) cigarette smoking among US adults aged ≥ 18 years during 2002–2016.

Methods Nine indicators associated with social disadvantage were analysed from the 2002 to 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: education, annual family income, sex, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, serious psychological distress, health insurance, public assistance, and employment status. Using descriptive and multivariable analyses, we measured trends in smoking overall and within the assessed variables. We also evaluated effect of interactions on disparities and estimated the excess number of smokers attributable to disparities.

Results During 2002–2016, current cigarette smoking prevalence declined overall (27.5%–20.7%; p trend < 0.01), and among all subgroups except Medicare insurees and American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). Overall inequalities in cigarette smoking grew even wider or remained unchanged for several indicators during the study period. In 2016, comparing groups with the least versus the most social advantage, the single largest disparity in current smoking prevalence was seen by race/ethnicity (prevalence ratio = 5.1, AI/ANs vs Asians). Education differences alone explained 38.0% of the observed racial/ethnic disparity in smoking prevalence. Interactions were also present; compared with the population-averaged prevalence among all AI/AN individuals (34.0%), prevalence was much higher among AI/ANs with <high school diploma (53.0%), unemployed (58.0%), or with serious psychological distress (66.9%). The burden of smoking attributable to race/ethnic disparities in smoking prevalence was an estimated 27.6 million smokers.

Conclusions Overall smoking inequality increased or remained unchanged because of slower declines in smoking prevalence among disadvantaged groups. Targeted interventions among high-risk groups can narrow disparities.

  • disparities
  • socioeconomic status
  • surveillance and monitoring

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors Dr Agaku conceptualised and designed the study and drafted the initial manuscript. Dr Armour helped conceptualise the study and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. Ms Odani helped conceptualise the study, assisted in the statistical analyses and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. Dr Okuyemi Critically reviewed and revised the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.