Special Report

American Counties With the Lowest Smoking Rates

Cigаrette sales climbed in the U.S. in 2020 for the first time in two decades. Americans bought a total of 203.7 billion cigаrettes last year, up from 202.9 billion the year before, according to a Federal Trade Commission report. The uptick coincided with increased cigаrette promotional and ad spending by tobacco companies.

Smоking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, claiming nearly half a million American lives annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 16 million Americans are living with a serious illness caused by smоking.

Though the risks associated with smоking and tobacco use are well established, 42.4 million American adults — or 16.6% of the adult population — regularly smoke cigаrettes. In some parts of the country, however, residents are far more likely to take the dangers associated with smоking seriously.

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, 24/7 Tempo identified the 50 U.S. counties with the fewest smokers. Counties and county equivalents are ranked on the adult smоking rate — the share of the 18 and older population who smoke every day or most days and have smoked at least 100 cigаrettes in their lifetime.

Smоking rates in the counties on this list range from 12.5% to 7.1%. The majority of metro areas on this list are located in Western states, including 15 in Utah alone.

Given the proven detrimental effects of smоking, it is perhaps not surprising that some important health outcome measures tend to be better than average in counties with lower smоking rates. For example, in all but a few of the 50 counties with the lowest smоking rates, the share of adults who report being in fair or poor health is below the 16.5% share nationwide.

The correlation between smоking rates and life expectancy is also strong. In nearly every county on this list, average life expectancy at birth is above the national average of 79.2 years.

Click here for the American cities with the fewest smokers

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