March 12, 2009 -- Maybe they should call it the Blue Smoke State.
Kentucky once again leads all states in the percentage of adults who still smoke cigarettes, according to state-by-state figures today released by the CDC.
With 28.3% of adults smoking, Kentucky is way ahead of second-place West Virginia (27% smokers) and third-place Oklahoma (25.8% smokers).
Utah holds its place as the state with the lowest adult smoking rate: 11.7%. It's the only state on track to meet the CDC's goal of reducing the U.S. smoking rate to 12%. Right now, nearly 20% of Americans still smoke.
In half of U.S. states, more than 19.8% of adults smoke cigarettes. U.S. territories vary: Guam's smoking rate of 31.1% makes Kentuckians look like quitters, while the U.S. Virgin Islands beats even Utah with its 8.7% smoking rate.
The CDC notes that this month is a good time to quit smoking: On April 1 -- yes, it's April Fools' Day, but this is no joke -- the federal tax on cigarettes will jump to $1.01 from the current rate of $0.39 per pack.
Despite failing even to come close to CDC goals, smoking rates have declined since 1998 in 44 states and the District of Columbia. However, these gains are threatened.
From 2002 to 2005, states cut funding for smoking prevention and cessation programs by 28% -- about $200 million.
"In fiscal year 2009, no state is funding comprehensive tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended funding levels," the CDC reports. "Only nine states are funding at least half of the recommended amount."
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry doubled marketing budgets from $6.9 billion in 1998 to $13.4 billion in 2005.
Here are the state-by-state smoking rates -- that is, the percentage of adults who currently smoke every day or some days. Note that the CDC does not rank states; rank order was determined by WebMD on the basis of the CDC data for each state's total smoking rate.