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[D] Should my dataset be balanced if the distribution in the real world is imbalanced?

Say I am predicting smokers in my dataset, and from prior knowledge I know that 15% of adults in the U.S. are smokers. My end goal is to deploy my model into a database that has information on 200+ million adults in the U.S to find potential smokers for a marketing campaign.

For my modeling data, should I purposefully mimic the “distribution” of smokers in the U.S. and have 15% of the data be smokers, and 85% of the data be non-smokers? Most of my coworkers have said “it’s easier to just balance them” but I believe this model would not be generalizable to the entire U.S. population if I keep it balanced.

submitted by /u/jambery
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Toronto AI is a social and collaborative hub to unite AI innovators of Toronto and surrounding areas. We explore AI technologies in digital art and music, healthcare, marketing, fintech, vr, robotics and more. Toronto AI was founded by Dave MacDonald and Patrick O'Mara.