Kentucky named one of states with highest smoking rates
A huge portion of the world’s population are smokers, in fact, according to the World Health Organization, 22.3% of the global population used tobacco. The primary reason people smoke is to reduce stress, at the risk of addiction. This is because tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine, which creates a sense of relaxation when consumed.
Tobacco is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths in the world, killing more than 8 million people worldwide, annually. It also increases the risk of a variety of health issues, such as an increased risk of a stroke, risk of multiple forms of cancer, as well as heart problems, such as heart disease.
NiceRx researched which countries and states have the highest smoking rates and most deaths caused by smoking — and Kentucky came in at No. 2 in the U.S. for both.
US states with the highest smoking rates
1. West Virginia
2022 Smoking Rate: 23.8%
West Virginia in the Southeastern region of the US is one of the smallest states, with a population of a little over 1.79 million, making it the twelfth least populous state. Despite that, it has the highest smoking rate in the states, at 23.8%.
2022 Smoking Rate: 23.6%
Bordering West Virginia, is Kentucky which is also in the Southeast of the US, with a population of over 4.5 million people, as of 2020. It also has a smoking rate that rivals West Virginia, being just 0.2% lower.
2022 Smoking Rate: 21.9%
Louisiana is located in the deep South of the United States and is the 25th most populous state with 4.65 million people, despite being the 20th smallest state by area. As of 2022, the smoking rate for Louisiana is at 21.9%, making it the third highest in the whole United States.
2022 Smoking Rate: 20.8%
In the Midwestern region of the United States lies the state of Ohio, the seventh most populous state with a little under 11.8 million people. Ohio’s smoking rate stands at 20.8% of the population for 2022, which is over 2.4 million smokers.
2022 Smoking Rate: 20.4%
And with the fifth highest smoking rate, we have Mississippi, another state located in the Southeastern region of the United States. It has a population of around 2.96 million people and is also the lowest-income state per capita. It also has a smoking rate of 20.4%, almost three times higher than Hawaii, the state with the lowest smoking rate.
US states with the highest smoking-related deaths
1. West Virginia
Annual Deaths from Smoking per 100,000: 241
Having the highest smoking rate in the United States, it should come as no surprise that West Virginia ranks highest for most smoking-related deaths. Annually, this southeastern state records 241 deaths caused by smoking, per 100,000 people.
Annual Deaths from Smoking per 100,000: 197
Again, Kentucky follows as a somewhat close second, despite having more than double West Virginia’s population. High rates of smokers more often than not will lead to a higher rate of health issues, caused by tobacco use. This has even led to 197 deaths annually for the state, per 100,000 of the population.
Annual Deaths from Smoking per 100,000: 192
A third state located in the south of the United States, Arkansas has a joint-sixth highest smoking rate in the whole of the US in 2022. Annually, the state has 192 deaths per 100,000 caused by smoking, just a few less than in Kentucky.
Annual Deaths from Smoking per 100,000: 188
Oklahoma is also from the deep south of the United States and in fact, it shares its Eastern border with Arkansas. The state had a smoking rate of 18.9% in 2022, which puts it just outside the top ten. Despite this, the state still annually sees 188 smoking-related deaths per 100,000. However, it has been gradually tightening smoking laws, especially in relation to younger people.
Annual Deaths from Smoking per 100,000: 183
To round out the top five, we have a fifth state that is located in the south of the United States, Mississippi. According to Tobacco Free Kids, the use of tobacco cost the state around $818 in government expenditures, per household. The use of tobacco also sees the state annually record 183 deaths per 100,000.