U.S. - Smokers more stressed out than non-smokers..

April 9, 2009 - According to a Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey conducted June 16-July16, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 2,250 adults half (50%) of all smokers say they "frequently" experience stress in their daily lives, compared with just 35% of those who once smoked and have now quit and 31% of those who never smoked. Is the stress a by-product of the smoking or of other unrelated factors?

The survey also finds that smokers are less happy and less healthy than both non-smokers and quitters. Consistent with what decades of public health research shows, smokers also report being in poorer health than non-smokers and quitters. Fewer than half of smokers (45%) say that their health is excellent or very good, compared with 63% of non-smokers and 55% of former smokers.

Age is strongly related to whether a smoker continues or stops. At ages 18 to 29, about eight-in-ten smokers are still smoking. But the rate of current smoking goes down sharply as smokers grow older. By ages 65 and above, only about two-in-ten smokers are still smoking, which means that the rest have quit. Whites are more likely to start smoking than are blacks or Hispanics. But among all smokers, whites are also more likely than blacks or Hispanics to quit. More than half of white smokers are no longer smoking, compared with about a quarter of black smokers and more than a third of Hispanics smokers.

High family income and high levels of education are associated with a low occurrence of smoking, and so is being married. Compared with other regions of the country, the Midwest has the highest rate of smoking. Nearly three-in-ten (28%) Midwesterners are currently smoking, compared with only one in five Westerners.

Reference: Smokers Can't Blow Off Stress by Wendy Wang and Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center, 4/8/2009.