Smoking with chronic illness

Despite efforts by 54 percent of area smokers to quit in the last year, one in five people living in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Schuylkill still smokes, according to the Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia. Its Community Health Database shows that among smokers, about the same number of people with chronic illnesses, such as asthma and heart failure, smoke as those who don’t have such conditions.

But more of those with chronic illness in the area - three in five – attempted to quit in the last year compared with slightly fewer than half of smokers who don’t have a chronic disease. The local nonprofit’s annual household health survey found that despite attempts to stop, 20.5 percent of residents in the eight counties continue to smoke.

The survey found that nearly 24 percent of those people diagnosed with asthma – 125,400 people – smoke. One in five people with high blood pressure – about 224,000 people – smoke. Nearly 19 percent of those diagnosed with heart disease – approximately 75,600 people in the area – smoke. And more than 18 percent – 70,300 people –  of those with diabetes continue to smoke, the survey found.

“These data tell us that there is a great need for services to address the health needs of people who smoke and have a chronic disease,” says Rose Malinowski Weingartner, research associate with Public Health Management Corporation. The survey results on chronic disease and smoking in the eight counties were released in anticipation of national Kick Butts Day 2010 on Wednesday March 24.