Women may soon be passing men in one category that used to be male-dominated. Bonnie Mapes of the Iowa Department of Public Health says, unfortunately, young Iowa women are cracking that glass ceiling when it comes to smoking. “It used to be overwhelmingly men who smoked and women have now caught up with men in adult smoking, especially in the college age,” Mapes says. “In that young adult age, we have actually more young women smoking than we have young men.” Mapes says just over 20 percent of adult Iowans are regular smokers. But among 18- to 24-year-olds in Iowa, 25-point-seven percent smoke. That’s the highest smoking rate among adults. Among all adults, about 23 percent of Iowa men smoke and about 18 percent of Iowa women smoke. Twenty states have lower adult smoking rates than Iowa’s. Mapes says the legal settlement that forced tobacco companies to pay states for the costs of caring for citizens with smoking-related illnesses has made a difference. “It did cause the price of tobacco to increase and that’s one of the most effective ways to get people to either not start, especially kids because they’re more price-sensitive, or adults to quit,” Mapes says. However, Mapes says that deterrent effect has worn off over the past four years because people have “gotten used to” the higher price of cigarettes.
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