June 23, 2010

Smoking in LA County

When I moved into a dorm at Rice U. in 1976, roommates were matched, in part, on whether they smoked. But only 3 out of 250 guys smoked, a startlingly low fraction in a society in which smoking was then common. So, while the Kool Kids tended to smoke back then, the Nerds already did not. The Triumph of the Nerds is one of the main cultural changes of my lifetime.

Here are some stats on smoking in LA County today. In summary, smoking is most common in downscale locations, with one exception: West Hollywood, the gay district, where, perhaps, dying of lung cancer eventually is less of a concern than dying HIV soon.
Nearly a quarter of adults in Quartz Hill -- 21.9% -- are smokers, followed closely by its Antelope Valley neighbor, Lancaster, where 21.7% of adults smoke, according to the report.

These are mixed-race blue collar high desert exurbs.
The report, the first neighborhood-level analysis of smoking by county health officials, also found higher levels of smokers in West Hollywood [gay], South Los Angeles [black and Hispanic] and parts of the South Bay [Southeast Asian and Polynesian?].

Males in L.A. County were almost twice as likely as females to smoke, 19% to 10%. The study's authors also found distinct racial disparities; 25% of blacks in L.A. County are smokers, compared to 15% of whites, 12% of Latinos and 11% of Asian Pacific Islanders. 

I was under the impression that black youths didn't smoke much at all, so are these older blacks? LA has a lower percentage of black ladies who are fat than other parts of the country (where I live, virtually every black woman, most of them affiliated in some way with the entertainment industry, is slender and stylish), so maybe LA blacks smoke to keep their weight under control?
Affluent communities were more likely to have fewer smokers. Overall, residents who have college degrees and higher incomes were less likely to smoke.
Joining Quartz Hill and Lancaster with high rates of adult smoking were: West Hollywood, 19.6%; Lake Los Angeles, 19%; the South L.A. council district represented by Bernard Parks, 19%; Palmdale, 18.5%; Hermosa Beach, 17.4%; and Redondo Beach, 16%.

The cities with the lowest adult smoking rates: San Marino, 5.3%; Malibu, 5.8%; La CaƱada Flintridge, 6.4%; Calabasas, 7.3%; Palos Verdes Estates, 7.4%; Agoura Hills, 7.7%; Westlake Village, 7.9%; and Walnut, 8.8%. 

These are all Suburban Utopias.There is a definite positive correlation between smoking rates and mortgage default rates. I think Lake Los Angeles had the highest foreclosure rate in LA County.
Overall, about 14% of Los Angeles County residents are smokers -- well below the national rate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20.6% of Americans smoke.
Nationwide, metropolitan areas with the highest rate of smokers are in the South, Appalachia, Montana and Wyoming [so, all those Marlboro Man commercials were demographically accurate!], according to the CDC. Those with the lowest rates are in California [health nuts], Florida [old people], Utah [Mormons] and suburban Connecticut and Maryland [upscale].


Dahinda said...

"The Triumph of the Nerds is one of the main cultural changes of my lifetime??"

Even today, women still go for jocks and tough guys over nerds.

Gene Berman said...


You should be able to remember that the "Marlboro Man" ads were intended to dispel the then-image of Marlboro as "the fag's fag," a rep it shared at the time with Parliament. It was a hugely successful campaign, of course, especially coinciding, as it did, with the replacement of "regulars" by various filtered brands.

Somehow, I suspect that switching to filtered cigarets made it easier for many people to quit entirely. It's only a supposition on my part, that the regulars, with their hi-quality
tobacco, are more addicting than the filtered variety. I've been doing these old-fashioned Camels since 1956 and I'd certainly "walk a mile" for 'em if I couldn't get 'em any closer. After nearly 20 years on 'em, I was wheeking noticeably, so quit for 6 years, during which time the wheezing cleared up. After 6 years, started up again and, sure enuff, after about 20 years, started with the wheezing again. But that wss 10 years ago--time to quit again but it seems to be a bit harder now.

Anonymous said...

Smoking used to be the time waster of choice right behind television at our state's prisons. When our well meaning but idiot legislature made smoking illegal in the prisons, they inadvertently made things worse for the workers.

Far more prisoners smoked than the general population. However, they had a reason; to pass the time.

Gays are already doing something repellent to the average citizen. What's a little public oral gratification compared to what they do in (mostly) private? Also, gay men like to be thin. Cigarettes work nicely for that. I know it is probably more complicated. To some extent out gays must have less impulse control than either non-gays or closeted gays (right back to that repellent behavior).

Most people feel some anti-social urges but most control them. Gays seem unable or unwilling to control their worst impulses. Most child molesters in prison are homosexual and they display more traits that get picked up by gaydar. Working in prison you learn to spot child molesters just like you can spot drug dealers and other types of criminals. Of course, they are in prison because somebody could spot them.

Anonymous said...

Steve, great post.

"The Triumph of the Nerds is one of the main cultural changes of my lifetime."

Steve, you are 100% correct on this one. Financial rewards in our society have been re allocated over the past 30 years.

If you look today at which people in our society in their 30's and 40's are making the real money, the nerds are present in a way that they never were before.

Obviously the non-nerd white males have seen a massive reduction in relative wealth and status while the nerd white males have seen a massive relative wealth increase.

In fact, I think some of the pain that we hear expressed by the "white survivalists" and "anti semites" can be better understood at rage against the loss of prestige to the nerds.

Let me give you an example - in countries that have no Jews, and have no successful minorities of any kind, you still see the intense expressions of pain by those that are losing out to the nerds of those countries in the race for wealth and status.

Like many people here, I am a strong advocate of emptying out the current population of Oregon, and gifting the whole state of Oregon to the "white survivalists" who post here.

The same way Israel is within its rights to set its own immigration policy, The new nation of Oregon would also be within its rights to set immigration policy. The new nation of Oregon would of course have a citizenry that is made of up 100% of people of European gentile ancestry.

I for one am very interested in seeing what this new nation will do about "nerds". Different white families carry genes for different IQs. The high IQ nerdy whites inside the new nation of Oregon will of course acumulate tremendous wealth and prestige for themselves.

While the "white survivalist" crowd living in the new country will of course feel some pain over being lorded over by a high IQ white elite, I personally believe that it is easier for them to accept this in a situation in which the high IQ elite has the same culture and race.

So while there will always be tensions between the nerds with the money and power (Bill Gates, etc) and the white males born with lower IQ, I think those tensions are much lower than they would be if the nerd class included asians and Ashkenazi.

So yes Steve by all means discuss the triumph of the nerds

Chris Anderson said...

"I was under the impression that black youths didn't smoke much at all, so are these older blacks?"

Steve, IIRC that impression is about 15-20 years out of date. It comes from the youth-smoking panic of the early 90's (i.e. Joe Camel). It was widely reported that young blacks were smoking at a much lower rate than their white counterparts (among whom there was a slight increase in smoking rates over prior years).

Whatever the effect was, it leveled off. I see plenty of young blacks smoking nowadays, although they tend to smoke cigarillos rather than cigarettes.

Anonymous said...

All I know is I have made an awful lot of money investing in tobacco companies over the years.

Anonymous said...

Even today, women still go for jocks and tough guys over nerds.

No kidding.

Now that I am starting to settle down into domesticated mode, my Baby Mama has this running joke about "Where is the Dark Knight that I used to date?"

Anonymous said...

Do people eat more today, and are consequently more obese, because they don't smoke as much as they used to?

Robert said...

I suggest that there is an almost 100% correlation between white people who believe unlimited immigration is good for American and non-smokers.

Anonymous said...

These days, smokers tend to come from the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Smoking is mainly a lower class thing.

Besides, I don't see anything that would make smokers endearing to women and young men. Smoking has a lot of dire side effects, including.......

1.)Hurts the lungs, so you can't play sports
2.) Always coughing up phlegm
3.) Age prematurely
4.) Crappy breath and teeth
5.) Sickly and lowered immune system
6.) Crappy looking skin and appearance

If you want to look good for women and be a model of male virility and athleticism, I'd reccomend staying away from the stuff.

Jocks and tough guys go the gym and play extreme sports. Smoking tends to be the hallmark of the guys that like to feel sorry for themselves, which is not a good strategy for winning over the ladies.

Whiskey said...

True, more like "Triumph of the SWPL."

Anonymous said...

Yes it's true Utah doesn't have many smokers.

I was hired just out of grad school by the consulting firm that got the contract for "The National Cancer Control Survey" as a part of Nixon's War on Cancer. So I ended up interviewing the State Health Officer for Utah.

He said something to the effect that they didn't have much cancer because they didn't smoke, but all those Nordic blonds got a lot of skin cancer. Apparently he didn't want us to think that he was superfluous.

They were indeed different in Utah. I came off the plane with a splitting headache but no one it seemed in the entire State Health Department had an aspirin. They were saying no to drugs even then.

Later we had "high level" talks with the National Cancer Institute (part of NIH). Findings were discussed and policies proposed. I can reveal it now, the way to control cancer - Don't Smoke.

You taxpapers spent a lot of money to get that result so you'd best heed that advice.

Of course now that we have Obamacare the government may switch its position. It is well known that smoking robs you of about ten years of life and that the last ten years of your life is when you need all those expensive medical procedures. Smoking saves money for a national health service.


brooklynguy said...

Steve,it's not the gays. It's the large Russian population in the eastern part of West Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Gays smoke to stay thin

rob said...

where I live, virtually every black woman, most of them affiliated in some way with the entertainment industry, is slender and stylish), so maybe LA blacks smoke to keep their weight under control?

How, well, black are these women? I'm fairly sure that darkness, African features, and obesity are at least moderately correlated in African-American women.

I wonder why black women are so fat, but black man aren't more obese on average than white men. Is controlling one's weight more g-loaded for women? Are black women too afraid to walk outside because they usually live around crime-prone blacks? Maybe black men go for women with cars, jobs, and apartments, so they can't be too picky on things like 150 extra pounds? Steve, inquiring minds want to know

Anonymous said...

The official GOBMNT line is " We were all created equal". Unless we change the GOBMNT line, then all our rantings and rational thought are for naught. What do you think are the chances that we will change the official GOBMNT line? My take "ZERO". We are fighting something that we cannot win!

SFG said...

Yeah, it's more the SWPLs than the nerds, I think. Cultural things diffuse downward as each class imitates the one above it.

Nerds are hot in China, I think. You still see Asian women walking around with dorky white guys.

Anonymous said...

Peter Bagge did a classic cartoon on the nerdification of mainstream American society.


Anonymous said...

I beg to differ, it si not jocks and tough guys, you can trigger the feminine responses with a litle game.

Steve Sailer said...

"It's the large Russian population"


Steve Sailer said...

Chris Anderson says:

"Steve, IIRC that impression is about 15-20 years out of date. It comes from the youth-smoking panic of the early 90's (i.e. Joe Camel). It was widely reported that young blacks were smoking at a much lower rate than their white counterparts"

Yup, now that I think about it, you are exactly right about when I heard/observed that. Thanks.

BamaGirl said...

Smoking is rampant here in Alabama. Over half of the college students at my university smoke. And pretty much everyone is at least an occasional smoker at parties. Over 80 percent of people who work in restaurants smoke too, but that's a given anywhere since its a convienent time-waster. I smoked for about a year and quit because it made me sick all the time.

Chief Seattle said...

How do young people afford cigarettes at all these days at $8/pack? That's 4x what they were when I was 18, whereas low-end wages have barely budged over the same period. Who is going to work an hour for a pack of smokes?

Judging from old NASA videotape the guys that got us to the moon were pretty much chain smokers. Does smoking boost concentration and IQ? It's never had that effect on me, just makes me jittery.

James said...

In Australia, as far as I can see, smoking is today almost entirely a class-based thing. Non-smokers are invariably middle-class or upper-class.

Working-class men and working-class women seem to smoke almost as heavily as they ever did. That's in spite of the fact that one pack of cigarettes now costs about $AUS14.

When smoking was banned in Australian offices and hospitals during the 1980s, it didn't appear to make the least bit of difference to the attractiveness of cigarettes per se among the employees. The smokers just went outside and smoked there. They still do.

In the 1950s 70% of Australian men smoked. Now it's around 30% of Australian men and 27% of Australian women.

During recent years the federal government has ramped up the anti-smoking campaigns on television and on the packs themselves. (Australian packs now have graphic photos of spectacularly decaying aortas, lungs etc.) I don't know why the politicians bother, because even though fewer Australians smoke these days than they did half a century back, there's a large minority of the population which will continue to smoke at all costs.

Anonymous said...

Here on the other side of the country, in eastern Tennessee, smoking of every sort (cigarettes, cigars, cigarellos, reefers, bowls, bidis) is pandemic among the native white pop.

One annoying thing about smokers is that they are always running away to indulge. "Where is John?" "Out back, having a cigarette." "And Cleatus?" "He is on his smoke break." "Where is Earlene?" "In her car, hitting a bowl." "When will they return and open the store/go to work/do what we're paying them to do?" "Only after they are finished with their smoke."

FWIW, I have never seen any black person smoking anything here, although the thing must certainly be done.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you're a film critic; what do you think of the idea that the decline of smoking results from the decline of censorship in US movies? In the "golden age of Hollywood" a couple would embrace, begin to fall, and the next shot would be of them each smoking a post-coital cigarette. So Smoking = Sex, which is vv good for smoking. Now sex is indicated by the actors taking all their clothes off and bouncing about on top of each other, so there's no need for the symbolic cigarette.

Anonymous said...

Chief Seattle: Who is going to work an hour for a pack of smokes?

Talk about a G-loaded question...

Chief Seattle: Does smoking boost concentration and IQ?

Camille Paglia is a big proponent of that idea [apparently there are studies which indicate that nicotine can forestall the onset of Alzheimer's].

And I never saw John Nash wandering around Princeton but that he didn't have a cigarette dangling from his lip.

Sam said...

Nrad Pitt is a heavy smoker. It has hurt him quite a bit in terms of making women and attracting women.

alonzo portfolio said...

In college I lived with 8 guys from San Marino, none of whom smoked. The two smokers we had were from Napa.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"The Triumph of the Nerds is one of the main cultural changes of my lifetime??"

"Even today, women still go for jocks and tough guys over nerds."

Yeah, for the most part.

But there ARE more nerds getting laid than used to be. Which is the root cause of the current autism epidemic.

Udolpho.com said...

smoking fell victim to the feminization and deracination of American society...although I'm aware of the rates of smoking among women, it's definitely a masculine vice and female smokers tend to be more "virile" (for want of a better word)

the typical anti-smoking domain is the suburban tract home with cheap carpet and low ceilings, the immaculate crappiness of which is fiercely defended by the over educated, underemployed woman of the house...smoking is NOT OKAY there, just like off color jokes are NOT OKAY at the workplace where she "manages" to do almost nothing productive

Kevin B said...

The eastside of west Hollywood, through Hollywood and east Hollywood is heavily populated by cultures from the former Soviet Union. Mainly Armenians. Armenians smoke like chimneys.

Steve touched on the following idea long ago, can't remember when exactly. Given the high rate of smoking of the "greatest generation," what was the overall effect on Western culture?

All my male relatives of that age were smokers. Non-filtered, heavy tar and nicotine drug delivery users. Their parties were nicotine dens.

Much is written about the effects of nicotine, but it's the type of drug that really does not deliver a noticeable wallop--like pot or heroin. However, you can more clearly understand what the drug does by looking at how people behave during withdrawal. Each drug has its own characteristic withdrawal symptoms. When nicotine receptors are denied their due, you get consistent cranky behavior with an inability to focus. The opposite then holds true for ingestion.

The greatest generation should be seen as the most drug addicted Western demographic to come down the pike. How that mass addiction played out in policy and culture would make a fine book.

Anonymous said...

Totally disagree with the triumph of the nerds- they aren't having kids. Yes they can buy bigger TVs but the biological winners are the guys who have 20 kids with 20 different moms and aren't paying anything.

Udolpho.com said...

First of all most nerds work shitty low level jobs and will never rise far above entry level because they have terrible personalities and (this is important) they aren't very smart

nerd does not equal genius, and just because you spent your teen years playing video games and installing video cards does not mean you have marketable skills beyond being a computer janitor

and look at the chicks most nerds get with--fat zero personality cast-offs who assuming the nerd mates are more likely to produce an end of the line autistic than the next Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates

nerds dream on, you're still at the bottom of the totem pole and those vapid jocks have figured out how to offshore almost everything you do

Anonymous said...

"But there ARE more nerds getting laid than used to be. Which is the root cause of the current autism epidemic."

That's just conjecture. It's just as likely that the 'autism epidemic' is caused by 'improved' diagnosis rates.