our view

September 16, 2010

Still smoking

After 40 years of declines in cigarette smoking in the United States, the rate now seems to have stabilized.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

A Los Angeles Times story reported last week that according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five Americans still claim to light up regularly. That rate has not changed much in the last five years, and smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in the United States. An estimated 446,000 Americans die from smoking-related diseases each year.

Smoking rates had previously been in decline for four decades. According to a study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, about 20.9 percent of adults smoked in 2005 and 20.6 percent in 2009.

Not surprisingly, squeaky clean Utah has the lowest smoking rate of all states at 10 percent. But California in second with a rate just below 13 percent? California? The answer appears to be in the implementation of prevention programs, which are working in those states. The Times story says five million fewer people would be smoking if all states enacted similar efforts. About $25 billion is available to states from cigarette taxes, but only $700 million of that is spent on smoking prevention. Sad.

What states are the worst? No surprise here. Kentucky and West Virginia lead the “pack” with about 26 percent of adults lighting up regularly.

In Iowa, according to the CDC website, 18.8 percent of the adult population are current cigarette smokers. Iowa ranks 29th among the states.

Iowa Department of Public health surveys have the rate at about 14 percent, showing a decline from 19 percent in 2007.

Gov. Culver’s office claimed success in 2009, saying Iowa was leading the way in smoking cessation. Culver announced then that smoking in Iowa dropped 22 percent since 2006, calling it the most significant drop experienced by any state in recent years.

Smoke and mirrors? Maybe, but any way you look at it, despite bans and tax increases, smoking is still a major problem. But until government can cure its addiction to the tax revenues from tobacco sales, the problem will burn on. CV



Round Kick Gym

Best of Des Moines 2011

Fall Relish

Coupon Guide