Kentucky Has Highest Smoking Rate
ATLANTA (AP) - Tobacco-rich Kentucky still leads the nation in the rate of adult smoking, while Utah - with its large Mormon population - again has the lowest rate, federal officials said today.
The 1998 state-by-state smoking rates, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed little change from 1997. Overall, the CDC said, 22.9 percent of Americans smoke regularly, down slightly from 23 percent.
Kentucky's 30.8 percent smoking rate was unchanged from the last survey. The CDC has blamed the high rate on a lack of controls in Kentucky, which has the nation's lowest tobacco excise tax at 3 cents a pack.
Two-thirds of Kentucky farms produce tobacco, making it the nation's most tobacco-dependent state, according to the Federal Reserve Bank. The state ranks second only to North Carolina in overall tobacco production.
Utah's smoking rate of 14.2 percent, kept down by the Mormon Church's stand against tobacco, was up slightly from 13.7 in 1997.
The statistics were based on a national telephone survey of people over 18. Smokers were defined as those who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives and currently smoke every day or some days.
After Kentucky, the next highest rates were Nevada at 30.4 percent, West Virginia at 27.9 percent, Michigan at 27.4 percent and South Dakota at 27.3 percent.
After Utah, the lowest states were Minnesota at 18 percent, California at 19.2 percent, New Jersey at 19.2 percent, and Hawaii at 19.5 percent.
The report also looked at cigar smoking for the first time, asking how many adults have ever smoked a cigar and how many smoked one in the last month.
Nationally, 39 percent said they had tried one, while only 5.2 percent said they had one in the last month.
Nevada had the highest rate of current cigar smokers at 7.4 percent. Arizona had the lowest at 1.4 percent.