Kentucky has the highest smoking rate in the country, with 29 percent of people surveyed by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index answering "yes" to the question, "Do you smoke?" (United Press International photo by Alexis G. Glenn)
Kentucky's number is 8 percentage points higher than the national average, which remains unchanged from 2008. Utah had the lowest rate, 11 percent. The survey included answers collected from 1,000 Americans from January to June.
Smoking rates remain highest in the South and Midwest. "The findings suggested government smoking bans were effective," United Press International reports. "There were no bans on smoking in bars in all but one of the states where rates are 25 percent or higher and no bans on smoking in restaurants in all but two." (Read more)
In an op-ed piece in Monday's Lexington Herald-Leader, public health advocate Joan Buchar of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky asks the upcoming General Assembly to pass a statewide ban, and lists the benefits: Teens and preteens are less likely to begin smoking because they see fewer adults smoking. There are fewer visits to the emergency room for heart attacks in communities with comprehensive bans. And businesses are attracted to areas where bans are in effect, Buchar writes.
"Kentucky is known for its hospitality and beautiful places," she writes. "We can be known, too, as a beautiful and healthful place to live. Twenty years from now, our children will thank us for taking this bold step today." (Read more)