The Seven States Where People Can’t Quit Smoking

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3. Oklahoma
> Pct. of adults who smoke: 23.7%
> Poverty rate: 16.2% (15th highest)
> High school graduation rate: 77.3% (25th highest)
> Tax rate on cigarettes: $1.03 (21st lowest)

Oklahoma has the third highest rate of tobacco use among adults in the country, despite the fact that it has more legislation to prevent smoking than much of the U.S. Smoking is restricted to designated areas in private workplaces, government work sites and restaurants, and is banned in daycare centers. In addition, it is one of the few states to ban possession of cigarettes for residents under the age of 18. Violators face a minimum fine of $100 on a first offense, $200 on a second offense, and they can even face jail time if they do not inform police where they obtained the cigarettes. This has not stopped the state from having a high school smoking rate above the national average.

2. Kentucky
> Pct. of adults who smoke: 24.8%
> Poverty rate: 18.6% (3rd highest)
> High school graduation rate: 77.6% (23rd highest)
> Tax rate on cigarettes: $0.60 (11th lowest)

Nearly one in four adults in Kentucky smoke or use tobacco regularly. Part of the reason for this may be the particularly high smoking rate just in the state’s high schools: 26.6%. Kentucky has no indoor smoking bans of any kind, and the 11th lowest tax on cigarettes in the country, standing at $0.60 per pack. In Kentucky, 371 out of every 100,000 adults die each year from smoking-cased deaths, the highest rate in the country, according to an Associated Press article.

1. West Virginia
> Pct. of adults who smoke: 26.8%
> Poverty rate: 17.7% (5th highest)
> High school graduation rate: 77.0% (25th lowest)
> Tax rate on cigarettes: $0.55 (7th lowest)

West Virginia wins the dubious first place in this list with an alarming smoking rate among adults of 26.8%. The state has none of the bans on indoor smoking that other states impose. It is even legal to smoke in childcare centers. The state has the seventh-lowest cigarette tax in the country, at just $0.55 per person. Of the state’s current smokers, nearly 55% have tried and failed to quit in the past year. According to the CDC, the state has the second worst rate of tobacco-related deaths in the country.

Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter