Nevada Has Nation's Highest Smoking Rate - CDC
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Nevada has long enjoyed a reputation as a mecca for gamblers, but the western state appears to have become a haven for another embattled breed: smokers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday that Nevada's smoking rate in 1999 surpassed that of Kentucky, which ranked first the previous year.
The Atlanta-based CDC said 31.5 percent of adults smoked cigarettes in Nevada in 1999, up from 30.4 percent in 1998. The CDC did not say why the state's smoking rate had increased.
As in previous years, neighboring Utah, with its large population of Mormons, had the nation's lowest adult smoking rate. It declined from 14.2 percent in 1998 to 13.9 percent in 1999, the Atlanta-based agency said.
Linda Pederson of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion said Utah's low rate was attributable to the Mormon church's opposition to tobacco use.
The CDC's state-by-state smoking report, based on an annual telephone survey, included data from Puerto Rico for the first time. The 1999 adult smoking rate in the U.S. territory was 13.7 percent, lower than any of the 50 states.
Researchers said data from 17 states and the District of Columbia showed an increase in smoke-free work environments.
The proportion of adults who said their workplace had an official smoke-free policy ranged from 61.3 percent in Mississippi to 82 percent in the district.
``Employers are starting to realize that there are benefits to having their environments non-smoking,'' Pederson said.
Overall, the CDC said about a quarter of all adults, almost a third of high-school students and one in 10 middle-school students smoked cigarettes in 1998 and 1999.
The CDC estimates tobacco use causes about 430,000 premature deaths every year, including about 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 62,000 deaths from coronary heart disease among non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.