Tobacco Control Programs Cut Smoking Rates

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

"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,

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

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

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%

By Denise Mann
Reviewed by Laura Martin
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