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Tobacco Control Programs Cut Smoking Rates

But CDC Study Shows Some States Are Lagging in Antismoking Efforts

By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

April 22, 2010 -- Tobacco control programs, including smoke-free laws, media ads, and higher cigarette prices, are making a dent in U.S. smoking rates, but there is still a lot of room for improvement in many states, according to new report card issued by the CDC.

The report ranks the states in terms of how effectively they have implemented tobacco use prevention and control efforts, and what effect their investment in these strategies has had on their smoking rates. Those states that put the most into their tobacco control programs have seen the greatest declines in their smoking rates.

California has the most aggressive and longest-running tobacco control program; it saw a dip in adult smoking rates from 22.7% in 1988 to 13.3% in 2006. This drop corresponded with a decrease in heart disease and lung cancer deaths.

"Although the nation has not experienced substantial reductions in the national smoking rate over the past five years, this report shows that states know how to end the smoking epidemic," says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in a news release. "Smoke-free laws, hard-hitting ads, and
higher cigarette prices are among our strongest weapons in this fight against tobacco use. We must redouble efforts to bring down smoking rates, prevent suffering and premature death, and cut health care costs by reducing smoking."

There are great disparities in how states have implemented tobacco control programs. Last year, 14 states and the District of Columbia raised cigarette tax rates; 24 states and the District of Columbia enacted comprehensive smoke-free laws. But Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming do not have any kind of statewide smoke-free laws.

Here's a snapshot of how some states fared, from worst to best, in terms of adult smoking rates.

  • West Virginia 26.5%
  • Indiana 26%
  • Kentucky 25.2%
  • Missouri 25%
  • Oklahoma 24.7%
  • Maryland 14.9%
  • New Jersey 14.8%
  • California 14%
  • Utah 9.3%

SOURCES: CDC: "Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010."

News release, CDC.

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