Among Americans, Smoking Decreases as Income Increases..

April 2, 2009 - the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index - based on interviews with more than 75,000 individuals across the United States provides a closer examination of the relationship between household income and smoking behavior.

Nationwide, the index reveals that 21% of Americans say they smoke. As the accompanying graph illustrates, the likelihood of smoking generally increases as annual incomes decrease. One exception to this pattern occurs among those making less than $6,000 per year, an income bracket often skewed because many in that bracket are students. Among those making $6,000 to $11,999 per year, 34% say they smoke, while only 13% in the top two income brackets (those with incomes of at least $90,000 per year) say the same -- a 21 percentage-point gap.

The Well-Being Index also confirms distinctions in U.S. smoking rates relating to gender and race. Among respondents, 23% of men and 19% of women say they smoke. Blacks are the most likely to smoke (23%) and Asians are least likely to smoke (12%). Hispanics and whites fall in between, at 17% and 20%, respectively.

Interestingly, smoking rates in the United States are similar to those around the world. Across 118 different countries Gallup surveyed in 2006 and 2007, a median percentage of 22% said they smoked the day before the survey.

Reference: Among Americans, Smoking Decreases as Income Increases Gradual pattern is consistent across eight earnings brackets by Rob Goszkowski, GALLUP, 3/21/2008.