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New AHRQ Data Indicate that People with Chronic Conditions Continue to Smoke

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Quick Stats from AHRQ: December 23, 2002

A substantial number of smokers who report having a diagnosed chronic condition continue to smoke despite their health problems, according to new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Specifically, in 2000, about 37.9 percent of people with emphysema, 24.8 percent of people with asthma, 20 percent of people with hypertension or cardiovascular problems, and 18.5 percent of people with diabetes reported that they currently smoked.

In addition, three out of five smokers who also had the chronic conditions listed above reported that their doctor had advised them in the previous 12 months to stop smoking. Overall, about 57 percent of smokers who had a routine checkup in the previous 12 months were counseled by a physician to stop smoking.

The new data come from a self-administered questionnaire added to AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey in late 2000/early 2001 to collect information on health care quality and satisfaction with health care. These data on smoking in the United States were derived by combining the results of the new questionnaire with demographic, chronic condition, and preventive care information collected by MEPS' nationally representative survey of people over the age of 18 who are not in the military or living in institutions. More than 15,600 people responded to the survey questions.

The data are published in a MEPS Statistical Brief available on the AHRQ Web site at

Other findings include:

  • In late 2000 through early 2001, 23.1 percent of people over 18 reported that they currently smoked.
  • People with less than a high school education were more than twice as likely as those with at least some post high school education to be smokers (32.8 percent vs. 15.8 percent).
  • Almost a quarter of non-Hispanic blacks (23.6 percent) and non-Hispanic whites and other people (23.8 percent) smoked as compared with only 16.8 percent of Hispanics.

Note to Editors: AHRQ's Web site links to easy-read, evidence-based materials on quitting smoking. Go to, or call 1-800-358-9295 for print versions.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (; Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 (


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