The smoking rate in America continues to fall. From 2005 to 2010, the percentage of American adults who smoke dropped to 19.3% from 20.9%, according to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the trend is positive, “tobacco use remains a significant health burden for the people of United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a written statement. The problem is especially troubling in states with high poverty rates where tobacco use can be over 25%. 24/7 Wall St. examined the CDC data and found that states with the highest tobacco use also tend to have the highest rates of residents living below the poverty line.
Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky have some of the highest poverty rates in the country. They are also among the seven states in the country with tobacco use exceeding 22%. West Virginia and Louisiana, which are also among the top ten states with the highest percentages of residents living below the poverty, similarly have some of the highest rates of smoking.
States can take many actions to curb the popularity of tobacco use, such as smoking bans, increased taxes and media campaigns. “States with the strongest tobacco control programs have the greatest success at reducing smoking,” said Dr. Frieden. For example, “California’s adult smoking rate has dropped nearly 50% and the number of cigarettes smoked per person has decreased by 67% since the state began the nation’s longest-running tobacco control program in 1988,” according to the CDC.
However, preventative measures are not as successful in other states. Oklahoma, which is one of the few states to ban possession of cigarettes for residents under the age of 18, has one of the highest rates of cigarette use in the country. Louisiana has bans preventing smoking in private work sites, restaurants and daycare centers, and yet it also has one of the country’s highest smoking rates.
24/7 Wall St. used the CDC’s Vital Signs report, “Adult Smoking in the U.S.,” to identify the seven states with the highest rates of cigarette use among adults. We then compared that information with state data on poverty rates from the Census Bureau, high school graduation rates from the National Center for Education Statistics, and taxes on cigarettes sales from the Federation of Tax Administrators to identify.
These are the seven states where people can’t quit smoking.