RI Smoking Rates Down, But Costs Still High

Nov 19, 2013

The Department of Health has a new report out on how many Rhode Islanders smoke. While the number of adult smokers has declined, nearly one in five Rhode Islanders still smokes.

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The report shows a five percent drop in adult smoking rates in the past five years. But some segments of Rhode Island’s population still smoke in far greater numbers than others. Specifically, people without health insurance and lower income Rhode Islanders are much likelier to smoke than people with higher incomes and health insurance. Rhode Islanders of color have higher smoking rates, too.

The data also reveal that more smokers have attempted to quit at least once in the past year. But smokers who visited a doctor in the past year, more than 20 percent said no health care provider counseled them to quit.

The report credits the lower smoking rates to tougher tobacco policies and one of the nation’s highest cigarette taxes. But the authors say smoking related illnesses still cost the state more than half-a-billion dollars a year in health care costs.