Kansas City, MO – New Public Health Data shows Missourians are among the most likely Americans to smoke.
The state ranks fifth in the country for its adult smoking rate, according to new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Compared to last year, Missouri's rate actually declined a little, going from 25 percent to 23 percent. But Lorie Snyder, with the Kansas City Missouri Health Department, says that's no big deal.
"Really, it's not that significant," says Snyder. "Because back in 2006, it was at 23.8 percent. Then it climbed to 24. So it's kind of been pretty steady, pretty even."
Snyder says the smoking rate nationwide has gone down a lot more in recent years.
Kansas ranked 28th in the new report, with an adult smoking rate of about 18 percent.
Snyder says Missouri's weak penalties for selling cigarettes to minors and the state's cigarette tax - the lowest in the nation - are big contributors to the state's high smoking rate.
For the first time, the report also included information on the use of smokeless tobacco.
The rates are much lower compared to cigarette smoking, but Snyder says it's actually a growing problem.
"As some people quit smoking, they're thinking chewing tobacco is a safer alternative," says Snyder. "And really, it's not."
Snyder says the types of cancers a person can get from chewing tobacco are faster acting compared to those caused by smoking.
The new CDC report found that in all states, smokeless tobacco use was most common among men and young adults.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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