THE PLANK NOVEMBER 24, 2009
The NYT Science section has a blurb in its "Vital Signs" roundup bemoaning the fact that, as the headline notes, "Smoking in U.S. Declines but Not by Much."
According to the CDC, around 20.6 percent of Americans smoked last year, "barely down from 20.9 percent in 2004" and up a smidge from the 19.8 percent of reported smokers in 2007.
Sure, I'd be thrilled if that number were more rapidly approaching the target of 12 percent set by the Healthy People 2010 initiative. That said, I'm surprised the numbers aren't inching even higher in light of the craptastic economy. Stress may not play the key role in getting people hooked on cigarettes to begin with, but it damn sure contributes to recidivism among those who are on again off again smokers. And while high taxes may discourage some people (especially from taking up the habit) in tough times, there are plenty of folks who'd rather go without food than their smokes. With the recession ruining our peace of mind and so many of life's other little pleasures, why the hell not?
It's like Lloyd Bridges's brilliant "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit ..." gag in Airplane.