Disparities Grow as Smoking Rates Rise Again

Link: https://americaninequality.substack.com/p/smoking-and-inequality?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=267573&post_id=138207076&utm_campaign=email-post-title&isFreemail=true&r=15zk5&utm_medium=email



South Dakota is home to 3 of the 5 counties with the highest percent of cigarette smokers. We’ve written about one of those counties, Oglala Lakota County, several times before as it has the lowest life expectancy of any county in the US (residents die at 67 on average), and median income is $30,347. Meanwhile, Utah is home to 6 of the 10 counties with the lowest percent of cigarette smokers. American Inequality has covered several of these counties before. For example, Summit County has the highest life expectancy of any county in the US (residents die at 87 on average), and median income is 2.5x higher than in Oglala. 

Cigarette smoking is 50% higher than in the following 12 states compared to the rest of the nation: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. An average smoker in these 12 states goes through about 53 packs in one year, compared with an average of 29 packs in the rest of the US. Life expectancy is 3 years lower in these states compared to the national average. 

In 1998, California became the first state to implement a smoke free law prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas of bars and restaurants, as well as in most indoor workplaces. As we can see from the map above, California now has one of the lowest percent of adults smoking in the country. 

Author(s): Jeremy Ney

Publication Date: 25 October 2023

Publication Site: American Inequality

The Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index March 2022

Link: https://www.policygenius.com/life-insurance/life-insurance-price-index/march-2022/


Smokers and nonsmokers alike saw minor increases in life insurance prices from February to March. The biggest increase in average monthly premiums, of 3.26%, was seen by 25-year-old smokers buying $250,000 in coverage, and only amounts to $1.08 more a month. Most other demographics saw price increases that were less than 1%.

The minor pricing changes shouldn’t have much impact on consumers’ wallets, especially as insurers continue to compete for business. Although people buying life insurance in March may be paying a few cents more on average, most insurers are implementing pricing changes to win business rather than repel it.

Publication Date: 3 Mar 2022

Publication Site: Policygenius

Table 2 fallacy and stepwise regression

Link: https://towardsdatascience.com/table-2-fallacy-and-stepwise-regression-smoking-research-on-covid-19-hits-some-familiar-stumbling-615cf2e28c82


One problem may be the way we teach statistics to data scientists and public health professionals. Multivariable regression is often mistaken for a silver bullet that magically controls away confounding for all variables at once, as long as no confounder is left out. This is what statisticians call the “Table 2 fallacy,” because the adjusted effect sizes in a multivariable model are so often reported in Table 2. Many medical professionals learn to read research articles critically for understanding without ever having been introduced to the Table 2 fallacy.

Confounding is often taught as a purely mathematical concept, but that misses the point. Throwing a large set of variously interrelated variables into a big stepwise regression model might be expected to work, if all you know about confounding is that you should “never leave a confounder out” of your analysis.

Author(s): Savanna Reid

Publication Date: 14 February 2021

Publication Site: towards data science