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Did you know that there is a significantly higher prevalence of smoking among people with a disability? In fact according to the CDC, the smoking rate for people with a disability is up to 50% higher than the national average. One in four adults with a disability smoke.
The CDC found that people with a disability were more likely to have visited a medical practitioner within the last year than the national average. As a result of this they had been advised to quit smoking by a medical professional more often.
So why does this disparity exist?
It is a multi faceted issue that is still not fully understood. However many researchers agree that a large factor is accessibility and availability of cessation resources. The study continued to state that while people with disabilities in the study were advised to quit by their doctors, they were often not given specific advice on how to do so.
Access to tobacco control programs and cessation support has been proven time and time again to reduce the rate of smoking. The CDC states that improving the accessibility of these programs and support options will go far to reducing the disparity and is actively trying to achieve this goal. Some steps have already been taken.
For example several state run telephone helplines or “Quitlines” are ensuring their staff are trained in the use of the most advanced adaptive hearing technology for people with hearing difficulties. They are also ensuring that all of their literature is available in various accessible formats, including American Sign Language videos.
Some organizations routinely refer people to the Quitlines when they encounter a person who wants help quitting smoking. Individual Quitlines are now ensuring people who regularly refer people to them are aware of all of the accessible options available. (Hopefully this will start to address the issue of people with a disability being told to stop, but not being told how).
The CDC is also recommending that on a national level specific targeted cessation and awareness campaigns are created for people with a disability.
Targeted cessation support has worked well in the past (and continues to work well) with other demographics such as veterans or the LGBT community. So there is a lot of hope for this tactic.
It will take time for the results of these new initiatives and others like them to have an effect on the rate of smoking on a large scale. However I am sure you will agree, they are a step in the right direction.
Are you a smoker with a disability? Have you ever felt cessation resources were inaccessible? Do you have any other thoughts on why this disparity may exist?
Join the conversation in comments section below!